SC pulls up environment ministry for 'sleeping' over orders like 'Kumbhakarna'

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New Delhi, Oct 10: Taking exception to the central environment and forest ministry "sleeping" over its order to submit the environment and ecological impact of each of the 24 projects proposed or underway on Bhagirathi and Alaknanda river basin, the Supreme Court Thursday said that unless its orders were complied with, it would not lift the stay on them.

Describing the response of the ministry as one like that of sleeping "Kumbhakarna", a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman asked it "when will you wake up" and comply with the court's order.

The court inquired from senior counsel R.S.Suri appearing for the ministry as to why the ministry was not placing before it the report of the Expert Committee which was asked to make assessment of the adverse impact that these 24 hydroelectric power projects would have on environment in Bhagirathi and Alakhnanda river basin.

Making its clear that it was not going to vacate its order putting all the 24 hydroelectric power projects on the hold, the court observed: "You (MoEF) are behaving like a 'Kumbhakarna'. Why after being granted so much of time you have not submitted the report."

The apex court by its Aug 12 order had asked the ministry to submit report on the impact that each project would have on the environment of the Gangetic and Alakhnanda river basin.

It has by its Aug 13, 2013 order had directed the central and Uttrakhand governments not to grant any environmental or forest clearance for any hydroelectric power project in the hill state.

On the controversy over the design of the barrage over the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi and Alakhnanda river basin the court asked the NTPC, NHPC and THDC and the NGOs to meet officials in the ministry for ironing out these issues.

The meeting will take place Oct 15 and a week thereafter the power generating companies would submit their modified design to the ministry for its consideration.

The report on the modified design of the barrage would be placed before the expert committee in it meeting on Oct 29.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter Nov 5.

IANS

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