Environment Ministry allowed to clear hydel projects in Uttarakhand, except in Alaknanda-Bhagirathi basins

Policy matters this week
Bhagirathi river at its source, Gaumukh (Source: IWP Flickr Photo) Bhagirathi river at its source, Gaumukh (Source: IWP Flickr Photo)

MoEFCC can approve hydel projects in Uttarakhand, except in Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basins: SC

Much to the relief of Uttarakhand Government, the Supreme Court has allowed the Environment Ministry to give a green nod to hydropower projects in the State. However, the ban on hydel projects in the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basins still continues. The order is a kind of a clarification to the Court's earlier order with regard to putting a ban on clearance of hydel projects in Uttarakhand. Now, the Court has clarified that the ban was pertaining to the 24 projects in the two river basins and did not extend to other projects. 

Validity of environment clearance extended to 7 years

The Government has extended the validity of environment clearance (EC) from the existing five years to seven years and the maximum period for which the EC can be renewed is three years. Also, for the renewal of an EC, the proponent has to file an application to the regulatory authority within the validity period. However, the delay in filing the application, if it is filed between one to three months after the expiry of validity, can be overlooked depending upon the recommendations of the Expert Appraisal Committee.

SC expresses annoyance over delay in Renuka dam project

The Supreme Court has asked that the Renuka dam project, worth Rs 5,400 crore, be completely scrapped if the Central and Himachal Pradesh Governments are not able to sort out their ongoing political fight. The project, once implemented, will fulfill the capital's twin needs of water and energy. The differences between the two Governments are over the inability of the Centre, bearing 90% of the project cost, in releasing funds. However, the SC has now asked both the Governments to take a quick decision to end their dispute as any further delay to the project is going to escalate the project cost further.  

HC orders probe into the release of water for Shahi Snan at Kumbh

The Bombay High Court has ordered the Maharashtra Government to probe into the release of water from the Gangapur dam for the Shahi Snan at the Kumbh Mela in Nashik. However, per the State Government, the water was not released for the Snan but to reduce the water pollution resulting from lakhs of people taking a dip in the river. The Court is unsatisfied with the clarification given by the Government as the State is already reeling under a drought-like situation. According to the State policy, the first priority was to be given to drinking water while water for religious use was to be the last. 

Do not clear Krishna river banks without clearance: NGT to Andhra Government

The National Green Tribunal has ordered the Andhra Pradesh Government not to clear land near the floodplains on the Krishna's riverbanks for construction of its new capital without obtaining an environment nod. The order has come following a petition filed against the State Government for engaging in ground clearance. The Andhra Pradesh Government has identified a location between Vijaywada and Guntur cities on the banks of the Krishna river for its new capital.

This is a roundup of important policy matters from September  October 13 - 19, 2015. Also read last week's news updates.

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