There is no stay on construction activity for the proposed capital of Andhra Pradesh, ‘Amaravathi’, on the banks of river Krishna, the National Green Tribunal has said. The green panel, however, made it clear that continuation of the project would be subject to final decision of the Tribunal and the orders already passed by it. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the parties concerned with the case to “act with utmost sense of responsibility” while making comments in media in this regard. The clarification came after counsel appearing for the petitioners sought a written order clarifying that all work on the project would be subject to the decision of the NGT and the orders already passed.
However, the counsel appearing for the state government and the project proponent, alleged that the applicants were making incorrect statements regarding the NGT orders which are being “misquoted and wrongly reported” by the media. They also said that serious “prejudice” was being caused to the project proponent and the state government by such proclamations.
The Tribunal, however, refused to go into detail on the issue and asked all parties to exercise all possible restraint as the matter was pending. “Needless to notice that in the matter subjudice before the Tribunal, the party should exercise all possible restraint. We make it clear that though the application before us is pending and the applicant has sought injunction in relation to the continuation of the project in various respects, but we have not granted any such relief as yet.
“The application is to be decided with main application itself. However, we clarify that in the meanwhile continuation of the project would be subject to final decision of the Tribunal and the orders already passed by the Tribunal. The order is clarified to the above extent,” the bench also comprising Justice R S Rathore said.
Earlier, the NGT had sought responses from the Centre and Andhra Pradesh after a plea filed by activist P Srimannarayan, EAS Sarma and others claimed that while selecting the location for the greenfield capital city, to be called ‘Amaravathi’, state government has not considered the ecological and environmental aspects of the project as the site is a flood- prone area.
Last year, the NGT had directed Andhra Pradesh government not to carry out any operation to clear the land falling in the project area without obtaining environmental clearance to the project. The petitioners have made Ministries of Environment and Forests, Urban Development and Water Resources, AP government and Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) as parties in the case.
The plea contended that the government had proposed large scale urbanisation and infrastructure development on areas which comprised flood plains, wetlands and fertile agricultural land which were primarily paddy fields. The state government had issued notification identifying the location of the capital between Vijaywada and Guntur cities on the banks of the river Krishna and notified an area of about 7,068 sq kms for capital region and 122 sq kms as Andhra Pradesh capital city area.
It had also alleged that the APCRDA was procuring land by signing agreements with land owners and farmers for minimal prices. The plea had sought directions to constitute an expert committee to analyse the environmental and social aspects associated with the areas identified for development of the capital city.
It had also urged the tribunal for an immediate stay the acquisition of flood plains, wetlands and fertile lands for purposes of urbanisation and infrastructure development till a comprehensive environment assessment was undertaken.