The National Green Tribunal (NGT) yesterday ordered an interim stay on the construction works of the Telangana government's ambitious Rs 80,000 crore (US$12.2bn) Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) until the government obtained final environmental approvals.
The state government, however, said it is a temporary hurdle and they would approach the Supreme Court challenging the NGT’s directive.
"We will certainly appeal. Our legal team is examining the NGT order. After studying it, we will approach the Supreme Court," SK Joshi, Special Chief Secretary, Irrigation Department, told the Times of India.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao accused Congress leaders of obstructing the project and securing the NGT’s stay order.
He said, “It is known fact that former Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha is impeding the project.”
KLIS Chief Engineer B Hari Ram said the present KLIS works were intended to draw drinking water and the irrigation-related works would be taken up after securing the forest and environmental clearances.
“We feel that NGT was not satisfied with our argument and issued stay orders,” he said.
The public hearings for environmental clearance for KLIS were completed in all the 15 affected districts.
The public hearing process was completed in Maharashtra too, Hari said and hoped that KLIS would get all the required permissions as soon as possible.
The NGT stated that, “By an ad interim injunction, the respondents are restrained from carrying out any construction activities for the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme or any other activity like felling of trees, blasting and tunnelling in the forest areas in violation to Forest Conservation Act, until the mandatory statutory clearances including Environment and Forest clearances are granted.
“However, we grant liberty to the respondents to seek modification or clarification of this order, upon grant of such clearance.”