KURNOOL, OCT. 29 : The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Southern Zone, directed the AP government not to proceed with the proposed Rayalaseema lift irrigation project (RLIP) without submitting the detailed project report (DPR) before the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) as directed by the Union ministry of Jal Shakti as it would have an impact on sharing of Krishna waters between Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh.
Pronouncing the judgment on Thursday — the orders were reserved on September 3 — on the application filed by one Gavinolla Srinivas, the NGT said it had prima-facie found that there is a component of irrigation envisaged in the project, which requires prior environmental clearance (EC). Without this, the state government is not entitled to proceed with the project.
The Tribunal bench, headed by Justice K. Ramakrishna (judicial member) and Sibal Dasgupta (Expert member), weighed the contentions raised by the Telangana state government which argued that the existing project passes through a wildlife sanctuary and some protected eco-sensitive zones. If there is any expansion by providing additional canals or widening the canal, it could affect those areas and further appraisal on those aspects would be required.
The bench observed that the RLIP involves building canals from Sangamithram to Muchumarri of about 4.5 kms. The project will need evacuating the canal for about 22 km from the pump house delivery system to the Srisailam Right Main Canal (SRMC). It concluded that though AP was projecting it as a scheme to augment drinking water requirements for the drought-hit Rayalaseema, the purpose appears to be to enhance utility of the water for irrigation as well.
The NGT further said that this will change the manner in which water will have to be lifted even as the project shed the gravity method for the lift pumping system.
The Tribunal said that such a mechanical device, which, according to AP, is not sufficient to draw the allocated water and to reach the optimal use of allocated water from the Srisailam project. So it cannot be said that there is no diversion/change in the project as claimed by AP. If that be the case, then it cannot be said to be a scheme for drinking water purposes but rather a combined project for drinking water as well as for irrigation purposes, the Tribunal concluded.
It said that there is a change in the methodology of drawing water and they want to enhance the capacity of the existing canals by providing additional canals/diversion canals and also by widening the existing canals.
It is pertinent to note that the Ministry of Jala Shakti had earlier opined that RLIP does not require environmental clearance because it is not a new one and does not involve addition in the cultivable command area (CCA). The change of stand was taken by the Union ministry of Jala Shakti after the TS government strongly objected to it.