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NGT directive on Subansiri expert panel

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, April 18 - The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoE&F) to consult all sides and revert back to it over objections on the validity of the expert committee constituted to look into the 2,000-MW Subansiri (Lower) hydropower project.

According to Aabhijit Sharma of the Assam Public Works (APW), a three-member NGT Bench comprising Justices Dr Jawad Rahim, RS Rathore (both judicial members) and Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal (expert member), after hearing their counsel, directed the MoE&F to consult all sides and resolve the objections and inform the Bench on the next date of hearing on May 8.

Sharma said they had objected to the validity of two members of the expert committee � ID Gupta and PM Scott, alleging conflict of interest because they were with the Government of India and supported the decision to construct the dam.

The MoE&F had constituted the three-member expert committee with Dr Prabhas Pande, Dr ID Gupta and PM Scott following an order of the Kolkata bench of the NGT, which was challenged by the APW, a petitioner in the big dam case.

The Delhi bench of the NGT had on February 13 said that the Eastern Zone Bench was categorical in expressing its seriousness on the objections raised by the applicant with regard to the constitution of the expert panel.

Justice Rahim had observed that since the constitution of the expert committee had been challenged, it would not be proper for the expert panel to conduct its business and directed that the meeting should be deferred on such grounds.

The counsel for MoE&F mentioned that he would take instructions from the ministry and get back to the NGT Bench, said the Assam government�s counsel.

Meanwhile, a PIL filed by Pradip Kumar Bhuyan before the Kolkata bench of the NGT has been transferred to Delhi NGT. The petitioner has alleged reckless construction of dams in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The case is coming up for hearing on May 17.

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