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APW challenges NGT order in SC

By Spl Correspondent
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NEW DELHI, Nov 14 - The Assam Public Works (APW) has challenged the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order in the Supreme Court on the Subansiri (Lower) Hydroelectric Project of NHPC, which paved the way for restarting the project work.

In July, the NGT overruled the objections raised by the APW and others clearing the way for the NHPC to restart work on the stalled project.

�Court may admit the present appeal and set aside the impugned order dated July 31, this year passed by the NGT and direct the fresh assessment of the controversial Lower Subansiri Project,� the APW said in its application.

The APW has challenged the NGT order on several grounds. It contended that the tribunal has failed to appreciate the merits of the applications filed pursuant to the judgement and has consented to the constitution of a committee which already has a decided opinion on the matter and is incapable of deviating from the same.

The tribunal failed to appreciate the fact that bias may not only be pecuniary or personal, but may be also extended to a predisposition owing to the institution of affiliation, and which was enough to raise apprehension on the merits of the opinion, the APW said.

It further said that the NGT failed to appreciate its own judgement dated October 16, 2017 which in unambiguous terms recorded the extremely sensitive nature of the environment and ecology that this 116-metre-high 2,000-MW dam would devastate beyond redemption, and thus its evaluation by an independent expert committee is of prime importance.

The APW application also argued that the NGT failed to appreciate that the stakes involved in the matter are not limited to an individual or a group of individuals, but an entire ecosystem that stands to be annihilated at the hands of this mega project with no scientific certainty and that has had no unequivocal approval from not less than the nine committees that have analysed it thus far.

The tribunal also failed to appreciate that ID Gupta was already an expert, who has been consulted by the Central government faction of the Project Oversight Committee, that saw no demerit with the project, but the demerits were so glaring and unavoidable that the other faction, that is the Expert Group of Assam, dissented and chose to submit a separate report, clearly highlighting the numerous issues that the dam in its current design faces, the APW said.

The NGT also failed to appreciate that the Expert Group of Assam of the Project Oversight Committee had recorded in no unambiguous terms that the dam in its present form is an ecological disaster, the APW said. Thus, the tribunal without giving any credence to the precautionary principle, allowed a severely coloured committee to yet again analyse the dam and its design, thereby rendering its own judgement futile and worthless, it added.

The NGT, which is mandated to operate on the precautionary principle among other principles, has failed to appreciate the fact that the constitution of the committee in its current form would not only be a waste of the tax payers� money, but also be against the very principles that the tribunal is governed by, the APW said.

The NGT also did not provide any reasons as to why should the committee not be reconstituted and has simply dismissed the matter, without any speaking order, which is bad in law and deserves to be set aside, in the interest of the environment and ecology and more importantly, the potential threat to home and hearth of thousands of downstream and riparian communities, the APW said.

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APW challenges NGT order in SC

NEW DELHI, Nov 14 - The Assam Public Works (APW) has challenged the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order in the Supreme Court on the Subansiri (Lower) Hydroelectric Project of NHPC, which paved the way for restarting the project work.

In July, the NGT overruled the objections raised by the APW and others clearing the way for the NHPC to restart work on the stalled project.

�Court may admit the present appeal and set aside the impugned order dated July 31, this year passed by the NGT and direct the fresh assessment of the controversial Lower Subansiri Project,� the APW said in its application.

The APW has challenged the NGT order on several grounds. It contended that the tribunal has failed to appreciate the merits of the applications filed pursuant to the judgement and has consented to the constitution of a committee which already has a decided opinion on the matter and is incapable of deviating from the same.

The tribunal failed to appreciate the fact that bias may not only be pecuniary or personal, but may be also extended to a predisposition owing to the institution of affiliation, and which was enough to raise apprehension on the merits of the opinion, the APW said.

It further said that the NGT failed to appreciate its own judgement dated October 16, 2017 which in unambiguous terms recorded the extremely sensitive nature of the environment and ecology that this 116-metre-high 2,000-MW dam would devastate beyond redemption, and thus its evaluation by an independent expert committee is of prime importance.

The APW application also argued that the NGT failed to appreciate that the stakes involved in the matter are not limited to an individual or a group of individuals, but an entire ecosystem that stands to be annihilated at the hands of this mega project with no scientific certainty and that has had no unequivocal approval from not less than the nine committees that have analysed it thus far.

The tribunal also failed to appreciate that ID Gupta was already an expert, who has been consulted by the Central government faction of the Project Oversight Committee, that saw no demerit with the project, but the demerits were so glaring and unavoidable that the other faction, that is the Expert Group of Assam, dissented and chose to submit a separate report, clearly highlighting the numerous issues that the dam in its current design faces, the APW said.

The NGT also failed to appreciate that the Expert Group of Assam of the Project Oversight Committee had recorded in no unambiguous terms that the dam in its present form is an ecological disaster, the APW said. Thus, the tribunal without giving any credence to the precautionary principle, allowed a severely coloured committee to yet again analyse the dam and its design, thereby rendering its own judgement futile and worthless, it added.

The NGT, which is mandated to operate on the precautionary principle among other principles, has failed to appreciate the fact that the constitution of the committee in its current form would not only be a waste of the tax payers� money, but also be against the very principles that the tribunal is governed by, the APW said.

The NGT also did not provide any reasons as to why should the committee not be reconstituted and has simply dismissed the matter, without any speaking order, which is bad in law and deserves to be set aside, in the interest of the environment and ecology and more importantly, the potential threat to home and hearth of thousands of downstream and riparian communities, the APW said.

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