New Delhi: Rapping the Centre for not moving forward on Hydroelectric power projects in Uttarakhand for 18 months, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked it to find an "acceptable solution" to the problem and not to come out with "knee-jerk" reaction.
The court's observation came after Centre warned that greenlighting power projects in the state may trigger another disaster like last year and their cumulative effect needs to be studied before allowing them.
"You are not doing anything and 18 months time has gone by. There is a knee-jerk reaction on your part," a bench of justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.
"There must be an acceptable solution to the problem as a lot of money has been invested by firms including PSUs National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Tehri Hydro Development Coporation (THDC)," the apex court, which had stayed construction of all power projects in the aftermath of disasater in June last year, said.
The Centre expressed reservation in allowing the projects despite getting forest and environment clearance which was given before the disaster hit the state last year, saying that their design was not acceptable.
"Cumulative effect study of the projects has not been done and it needs to be done. It (project) may trigger another disaster. We have decided not to allow the projects after a particular height," senior advocate R S Suri, appearing for Centre, said.
The apex court refused to take on record affidavit filed by Ministry of Environment and Forest, saying that the report is "neither this way nor that way".
The bench raised questions on what made the Centre, which had given clearance to the projects earlier, to change its mind and what it is planning to do with regard to existing projects.
The bench after two-hour-long hearing reserved its order on what government should further do on the issue but later said that it will hear arguments of all parties and posted the case for tomorrow.
The apex court had last month granted four more weeks to the Centre for filing "comprehensive" environment and ecological impact report of 24 hydroelectric power projects, including six which was earlier cleared by the government, to be established on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins in Uttarakhand.
Earlier, the court had ticked off MoEF for sleeping like 'Kumbhakarna' and had made clear that it is not going to lift the stay on setting up of hydroelectric power projects in the state unless the Ministry comes out with a detailed report on the impact of 24 ventures on ecology and environment.
The court wanted to know why the Ministry was not acting on its orders requiring placement before it of the report of the 13-member expert committee, which was asked to study environmental degradation caused by such projects.
The apex court by its August 13, 2013 verdict had expressed concern over the climate tragedy in Uttarakhand that year and prohibited setting up of any new hydroelectric power project in the state till further orders.