Chennai: Highlighting the problems caused to the public due to transmitting power through high voltage overhead lines, the Madras high court has asked the Central and State governments to consider the alternative method of power transmit through underground wires/cables.
A division bench comprising Justices N.Kirubakaran and S.S.Sundar gave the directive while ordering notice, returnable by four weeks, to the Union and State governments and 9 others on a PIL filed by R.Palanisamy, which sought to quash the orders passed by the Central Electricity Authority granting prior approval for four power transmission projects.
“This is one of the most important issues highlighted by a petitioner and the petition has been filed after a thorough search by one Easan, counsel, as well as M.Purushothaman, the counsel for the petitioner. It is a model case for others as to how a Public Interest Litigation has to be filed. Young advocates have to take a clue from this case and prepare the case in such a manner”, the bench added.
The bench said the counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that though every project executed in India has to obtain environmental clearance, power transmission projects alone were exempted from obtaining environmental clearance. He also pointed out from various research papers that the transmission of power through overhead high tension lines causes many problems including transmission of high voltage, the bench added.
The bench said the World Cancer Report 2014 submitted by the World Health Organisation highlighted the cancer risk of the persons, who were living near overhead high tension lines. Transmission of high voltage power through overhead high tension lines causes a lot of problems and there were many health issues including risk of cancer. “When that is the position, it is not understandable as to why in India, environmental clearance has not been obtained”, the bench added.
The bench said it was fairly submitted by the counsel that out of 4 projects, 2 projects have already been completed and two projects were only in the initial stage. “When the rights of the citizens, especially, the health of the human beings are affected, it is the bounden duty of the central and state governments to take serious note of the possible hardships that may be caused to the public and the alternative system suggested by the counsel for the petitioner is probably feasible. Therefore, this court is of the view that after convincing with the reasons, it is not proper for the state government as well as the central government to proceed with construction of new high tension power lines without sufficient safeguards”, the bench added.
The bench said in view of the highlighted risk, this court directs the authorities that if the projects have already been commenced by spending more than 50 percent of the cost, the authorities need not refrain themselves from proceeding with the said projects. The counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that instead of transmitting the power through high voltage overhead lines, if the power transmits through underground wires/cables, the effect of high voltage was neutralized. Therefore, it was the need of the hour for the government to consider this alternative method also, the bench added....