‘AP’s capital city project yet to get environmental clearance’

HYDERABAD: Former Union finance secretary EAS Sarma has alleged that Andhra Pradesh’s capital city project is yet to be subjected to a statutory environment impact appraisal, and said it would be imprudent on the part of the Prime Minister to attend the October 22 foundation stone laying ceremony.

In pursuance of Section 6 of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Union Home Ministry had constituted a committee under Sivaramakrishnan to study the alternatives for locating the AP capital city, Sarma noted in his letter to Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to PM, PMO.

The Ministry specifically asked the Committee to keep in view the need to cause “the least possible dislocation to existing agriculture systems as well as ensure minimum resettlement of people and their habitations”, to ensure “preservation of local ecology and natural features including water bodies”, make a “vulnerability assessment for natural disasters like floods, cyclones and earthquakes” and “assess the scope for minimising the cost of construction and acquisition of land”.

“The Sivaramakrishnan Committee had submitted a comprehensive report accordingly but the State government ignored that report in defiance of the Act and unilaterally decided on locating the capital in Vijayawada-Guntur region, without any consultation with the people,” Sarma, who also served as Union power secretary and principal adviser, Planning Commission, said.

The retired bureaucrat alleged that the capital city project, as being thought of by chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, would disrupt agriculture over large stretches of fertile land, adversely affect the lives of lakhs of farmers, agricultural workers, artisans and agri-based economy, like never before. The project is yet to be subjected to a statutory environment impact appraisal, he added.

According to him, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in an interim order dated October 10, appears to have expressed concern at the fact that the State authorities are yet to survey the area and assess its agricultural resources and directed them not to proceed with any activity that is likely to disturb agriculture and the local environment.