Coimbatore

Activists oppose construction of Nanjundapuram STP

Say the court is yet to dispose of the final petitions challenging its construction

On Wednesday last, after a gap of around eight years, the Coimbatore Corporation resumed the construction of a sewage treatment plant (STP) at Nanjundapuram. This has come in for criticism from activists who want the Corporation to wait till it clears all legal hurdles.

The Corporation is constructing the STP at ₹ 43 crore to treat 40 million litres sewage a day.

The Corporation had to stop the construction sometime in 2011 after residents living in the vicinity moved the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control and they and the Corporation alternatively appealed to the judiciary and National Green Tribunal.

In December 2017, the Corporation obtained an order from the Southern Bench of the Tribunal, which allowed it to resume construction subject to certain conditions. Appealing against the Tribunal’s order the residents moved the Supreme Court in 2018. The Court is expected to dispose of the matter in August this year. Even as the residents’ civil appeal petition was pending, the Corporation, based on the Tribunal order, took steps to resume construction of the STP. It cancelled the work order it had issued to a company in 2010 for ₹ 32.22 crore, floated a fresh tender and has now awarded another contract for ₹ 43 crore.

Objecting to the Corporation resuming the construction, the residents moved an interim application before the court in March this year. Disposing of the interim application, the Supreme Court had on March 29, 2019 said that the civic body could wit the project but it would subject to the outcome of the civil appeal the residents had preferred.

“… the respondent – Corporation may continue with the project [STP] entirely at its risk, costs and consequences and subject to the outcome of the Civil Appeal and including such directions as may be passed by this Court while disposing of the appeal.”

“We make it clear that this order may not be construed as granting permission to the Corporation to continue with the project as such. Rather, the same has been made subject to the outcome of the appeal and such directions as may be passed by this Court finally.”

Commenting on the Corporation’s actions in the light of the Court order, consumer activist K. Kathirmathiyon said the Corporation that was notorious for wasting public money was once again taking a risk by going ahead with the STP construction.

The Court’s March 29 order had three important points that the Corporation should have taken note of before deciding to go ahead with construction – one, that the Corporation could continue with the work but it would be entirely at its risk, two, that the Commissioner would be responsible for any violation, and three, that the order should not be understood as granting permission for STP construction and that the final order was awaited in August this year.

The Corporation that had already wasted over ₹ 15 crore in the very STP by not taking requisite permissions and the residents taking it to court should have been doubly cautious this time. But it did not appear to be case. That the Corporation had not learnt its lesson appears clearer when one looked at the Court’s order, which had clearly stated that the final disposal would be in August this year, which was only three months away, Mr. Kathirmathiyon pointed out and asked what was the Corporation’s urgency in starting the work now.

Responding to the comments, a senior Corporation officer said that the Corporation was confident of a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court as it was proceeding only based on the Tribunal’s order.

Therefore, there was no question of any violation or deviation.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 10:43:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/activists-oppose-construction-of-nanjundapuram-stp/article27141925.ece

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