8 Oct 2020 2:58 PM GMT
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday said it would initiate proceedings under the contempt of courts act against government officers who for the last 37-years failed to rehabilitate residents of Nelavagilu village who were affected by air and water pollution, due to an industrial unit being established near their village. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok...
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday said it would initiate proceedings under the contempt of courts act against government officers who for the last 37-years failed to rehabilitate residents of Nelavagilu village who were affected by air and water pollution, due to an industrial unit being established near their village.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi said "We have to set it right." The bench directed the Chief secretary to provide names and designations of officers who are responsible for not constructing 432 houses for rehabilitating the villagers against whom the proceedings would be initiated."
The State government had in the year 1993 passed an order for rehabilitating the villagers to Kodiyal village. However, in its statement of objections filed before the court on October 3, the government admitted that shifting of villagers directed in the year 1993, is not completed.
The bench noted "Prima facie this is a case of violation of Fundamental Rights of the villagers guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. This court will be failing in its duty if suo-motu contempt proceedings are not initiated upon breach of directions contained in its order dated December 18, 2018." It added "The net result of the entire in-action is failure to rehabilitate the villagers."
The court is hearing a petition filed by RENUKA KARIBASAPPA GUDDANNAVAR, in the year 2011, and others seeking for implementation of the rehabilitation project.
The bench in its order said "These petitions to say the least show shocking state of affairs, almost 37 years have passed from the date of the order which was modified from time to time. As of today nothing is placed on record to show that even one house is constructed. After having accepted that it is not proper for the villagers to stay in the village, for 37 long years they have not been shifted."
The court has directed the Chief Secretary to file the affidavit by November 10 and posted the matter for further hearing to November 11.
M/s.Grasim Industries Limited established two units at Kumarapatnam, Haveri District in the years 192 and 1977, in the name and style of M/s. Harihar Poly Fibers and Grasilene Division. Residents of Nelavagilu village, situated near the unit complained of air and water pollution allegedly caused by the industrial units and sought for shifting of the village to a new location.
After a series of meetings held between State Government officials, elected representatives of the village and the representatives of the company. The company decided to extend financial contribution of Rs.5,00,000, only for shifting of Nelavagilu village. Meanwhile, by order dated June 9, 1993 the state government took a decision to shift Nelavagilu village to Kodiyal village.
Later in the year 1999, then the Chief Minister constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, Haveri District. The said committee recommended in the year 1999, to the company to pay a sum of Rs.261.11 lakhs, as a one time contribution to the State Government towards the rehabilitation project to be implemented by the State Government without any further financial assistance.
Subsequently, a fresh Government Order was passed on 07.10.1999 and a corrigendum was issued on 07.01.2000 under which the company was required to contribute Rs.2,61,11,000 to the State Government as full and final settlement in relation to the shifting of Nelavagilu village and in turn, the State Government was to implement the rehabilitation project. The said amount was paid by the company between June 21, 2000 and January 28, 2004.
Later, in 2016, the state government issued an order to the company directing it to construct 432 appropriate houses for the affected families of Nelavagilu village of Ranebennur Taluk which is to be shifted on account of discharge of effluents, water and environment pollution, allegedly discharged by M/s. Harihar Poly Fibers Factory.
Being aggrieved by the same, the company challenged it before the High Court. The plea of the company was allowed by a single bench of the court which increased the one time rehabilitation amount to Rs 10 crore. Government, was directed to by making the use of schemes that are available with it, put up 432 houses for the displaced villagers and hand it over to the villagers immediately after the completion.
The state government and company challenged the order before a division bench of the court which by order dated December 18, 2018, refused to interfere with the single judge bench order. Except, for observing that there is no pollution being caused by the petitioner industry, for the present.