Arguments on Polavaram inconclusive

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Hyderabad, Dec 27 (UNI) The Andhra Pradesh High Court today heard arguments on a writ petition filed by the State Government, questioning the National Environmental Appellate Authority's decision to cancel environmental clearance for the Polavaram Project.

The counsel for the state government told the Division Bench, comprising Ms Justice T Meena Kumari and Ms Justice G Rohini, that the Appellate Authority went far beyond its jurisdiction and authority.

In fact, it was for experts to decide the pros and cons of the execution of a particular project and the Appellate Tribunal had no wherewithal or the equipment to assess and ascertain the correctness or otherwise of the opinion expressed by the Expert Committee, he contended.

On a number of occasions, the Supreme Court had said courts would seldom interfere with a similar decision, which had far-reaching consequences, the counsel submitted, adding that the Appellate Tribunal did not consider the other aspects as regards the gathering of public opinion after the 1994 notification.

In fact, the Central Environmental Department had considered all aspects and ramifications of the dispute. The delay in the execution of the project would lead to cost escalation and dent the public exchequer, he contended.

The Tribunal, in fact, was swayed by only one aspect that in Orissa and Chhattisgarh, where the project was to be executed, public opinion had not been gathered, he submitted.

The Bench would hear the arguments again tomorrow on the application moved by the Irrigation and Command Area Development Secretary on behalf of the State Goverment, praying to suspend the order passed by the Appellate Authority and permit the government to go ahead with the project as per schedule.


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