Development is necessary for the economy but safeguarding the environment for future generations is equally important, said the Supreme Court, as it allowed the Andhra Pradesh government to go ahead with a tourism project in Vishakapatnam’s ecologically-sensitive Rushikonda Hill subject to certain curbs.
The project consists of the reconstruction of a resort complex to promote tourism. The work on it was stopped on the May 6 order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) after Congress lawmaker Raghu Rama Krishna Raju Kanumuru wrote to the green court in October last year.
The NGT order came even after the Andhra Pradesh High Court allowed the work to continue in December after the state claimed that it had received all the legal approvals.
The apex court quashed the NGT’s order and quashed its earlier proceedings. It said the parallel activities of the NGT and the High Court would create an “unreasonable situation”.
The Supreme Court allowed Andhra Pradesh to only build in the hilly plains where the old building complex was located. It stopped all subsequent construction by court order.
Justice Balaji Srinivasan, representing Kanumuru, cited pictures of Rushikonda hills and said that working on the project violated the High Court order of December 16.
The High Court allowed Kanumuru to appeal to the High Court and disclosed this information. “In view of the serious allegations made by the defendant [Kanumuru], all the information must be presented to the High Court so that an appropriate order can be made to strike a balance between development and environmental issues.”
The Supreme Court has said that no construction will take place in the hilly areas until the High Court reopens after the recess this month. A panel of justices BR Gawai and Hima Kohli said, “We do not want to disrupt the construction, but we do not want situations where the damage is irreversible.” The bench said, the High Court would be free to take the help of the NGT panel or appoint any other panel in the matter while considering the matter.