The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed penalties of more than Rs.243 crore as environmental compensation on Andhra Pradesh Government. The tribunal accused the state of violation of laws, causing substantial damage, while executing four irrigation projects.
The Principal Bench of NGT directed the Andhra Pradesh government and its authorities to pay the compensation amount within three months to the AP Pollution Control Board. The tribunal imposed environmental compensation at 1.5 per cent of the total cost of three projects, while the compensation was imposed at 0.75 per cent for the Polavaram Multi-Purpose Irrigation Project.
“Besides, the appropriate authority shall also act under relevant statutory laws to take appropriate proceedings, including prosecution, against the project proponents and other violators, if any, for committing offences by violating environmental laws,’’ the NGT said.
In its orders, the NGT said that the project proponents of Polavaram shall pay a compensation of Rs 120 crore (0.75% of Rs 16,010 crore). The project cost of Rs 16,010 crore was shown as per the 2010-2011 price level. For Purushothapatnam LIS, the NGT ordered payment of Rs 24.56 crore as EC, while for Pattiseema LIS, the EC was pegged at Rs 24.9 crore and for Chintalapudi LIS, the EC was fixed at Rs 73.6 crore.
“The Environmental Compensation amount shall be paid by the concerned PPs to the APPCB within three months. The amount shall be utilised for remediation/restoration of the environment under the guidance and supervision of an oversight committee comprising officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central and AP Pollution Control Boards. The APPCB and CPCB will be the nodal agencies,’’ the Tribunal said.
The Tribunal ordered to constitute a committee within one month and said that the remediation plan shall be prepared by the APPCB in consultation with the forests department within two months and shall be executed in six months. The NGT gave these orders after hearing various petitions filed by Pattipati Pulla Rao of Delhi, farmers from AP and others.
The Tribunal held the State Government responsible for the violation of environmental laws. “A king can do no wrong. Unfortunately, in this matter too, we find that an attitude similar to the above notion has been adopted by the State of Andhra Pradesh and its authorities when they proceeded for a few lift irrigation schemes and a river-linking project, by not following and observing mandatory laws relating to the environment.’’ It said.