New Delhi, June 16:
The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the government on an NTPC plea seeking resumption of work on its Lata Tapovan Hydro Power Project in Uttarakhand that was put on hold following the court’s May 7 order.
The public sector thermal and hydro power generation company has sought the modification of May 7 order calling a halt to 24 projects that were proposed within 100 km of eco-sensitive zone from Gangotri.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench of Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh that the clamp order was for the units that were proposed to come up and not the ongoing projects which had obtained all green clearances.
The Solicitor General told the court that Lata Tapovan Hydro Power Project did not fall within the 100 km range of eco-sensitive zone from Gangotri and was in a different direction. He said that May 7 order was for the projects which had yet to commence and not for the ongoing projects.
The apex court while calling a halt to the 24 projects, by its Aug 13, 2013 order had directed the union ministry of environment and forests and the Uttarakhand government not to grant any environmental or forest clearances for any hydroelectric project in the hill state.
The court by this order had asked the environment ministry to set up an expert committee to undertake a detailed study whether hydroelectric power projects both existing and under construction have contributed to the environmental degradation in Uttarakhand, if so, to what extent.
The court had also directed that the expert committee would also examine whether these projects had contributed to the tragedy that had hit the state in June 2013.
The NTPC, in its application, said that the expert body constituted by the ministry was far from the directions issued by the apex court, which had said it would have the representatives of the Uttarakhand government, Wildlife Institute of India, Central Electricity Authority, Central Water Commission and other expert bodies to undertake the detailed study as directed by it.
The company told the court that the expert body constituted by the ministry had just six experts on it and remaining 11 members were alleged environmental experts and social activists.
Besides the irreversible time and cost run over, NTPC in its application said that prohibition on the further execution of the project of national importance would not be in larger public interest.
The matter will come up for hearing July 22.