The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted two more weeks to the Centre for filing “comprehensive” environment and ecological impact report of 18, out of total 24 hydroelectric power projects, to be set up on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins in Uttarakhand.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit, in its order, noted that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has given a report that six, out of 24 hydroelectric power projects in the state, have substantially complied with legal requirements.
During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the MoEF, sought time for doing the environment and ecological impact report of 18 other projects.
“Whatever decisions have to be taken, have to be taken by you (MoEF). You take the decisions,” the bench said, adding that the court can “keep debating” the legal aspect as to whether the environment laws have been complied with or not.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Uttarakhand told the bench that the state is incurring losses due to delay on the part of MoEF.
The court has now fixed the case for further hearing on May 5 and asked the Centre to file its affidavit on April 29.
Earlier, the court had granted time for filing comprehensive environment and ecological impact report of 24 hydroelectric power projects to be established on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins.
It had asked the MoEF to come out with a “concrete proposal” after scrutinising projects including the hydropower projects of PSUs — National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Tehri Hydro Development Coporation (THDC).
“The purpose is live and let live,” the bench had said when lawyer Prashant Bhushan cited a judgement of the court to stress that the issue of degradation of ecology and environment should get primacy and, hence, the projects, which are still at primary stages, be not allowed.
“Attempts should not be made to stall the projects and simultaneously, it should not be case also that they (firms) will have all the freedom,” it had said, adding the earlier order, prohibiting setting up of new projects, was passed due to massive calamity in the state.
SC grants time to Centre for assessing 18 hydro power projects