The National Green Tribunal has sought a report from the union environment ministry in the case of the controversial Kanhar dam in Uttar Pradesh within one week, failing which a Rs.25,000 fine would be slapped as it listed the final hearing for March 4.
For the second time in a row, the ministry had failed to comply with the green court's directive requiring it to submit a compliance report on Feb 19 about the progress made by the Uttar Pradesh government in the Kanhar dam construction since 2008.
"The respondents in this matter - State of Uttar Pradesh and the ministry - are unnecessarily extending the pleadings by the means of filing delayed replies," petitioner Debadityo Sinha told IANS.
Following a petition in the case last year, the green court Dec 24 stayed the construction of the dam in Uttar Pradesh's Maoist-affected Sonebhadra district as impermissible for lack of a valid environment clearance. It was contended the previous clearance and forest clearance to the Kanhar dam project, first envisaged in 1976, were not valid after 38 years.
Despite the stay order, the Uttar Pradesh government went ahead with the construction and the petitioners approached the court early last month with a contempt application against the state.
Taking cognizance of the contempt, the NGT sought a reply from the state government but it failed to comply within the stipulated 10-day period.
In its response on Feb 4, the UP government stated that it had submitted a compliance report to the ministry of the progress made since 2008.
Claiming to have seen the construction work progress "unabated" since the case was filed in December 2014 and advance to the stage of now preparing to lay the foundation, Sinha said: "In such a scenario the very purpose of the litigation which demanded urgent attention seems to have become ineffective.
"This is a very casual approach by the ministry for not filing their reply till now. The ministry should actually be more concerned about such environmental damage."