20 July 2021 6:15 AM GMT
The Uttarakhand High Court dismissed a petition purportedly filed for environment protection, for abuse of the PIL jurisdiction while noting it to be a highly motivated plea, filed at the behest of an unknown person or entity. A division bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma noted that the unknown person or entity is merely using the petitioners...
The Uttarakhand High Court dismissed a petition purportedly filed for environment protection, for abuse of the PIL jurisdiction while noting it to be a highly motivated plea, filed at the behest of an unknown person or entity.
A division bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma noted that the unknown person or entity is merely using the petitioners as a front. Therefore, the petitioners are merely puppets at the hand of an unknown puppeteer, the bench added.
The petitioners, represented by Advocate DK Joshi sought directions against the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change to revoke the forest clearances and environmental clearances granted before February 2021 to Rishi Ganga and Tapovan-Vishnugarh Hydro Projects. They also sought that the projects which are already under construction should be canceled. The plea also sought direction to the State of Uttarakhand to ban blasting, riverbed mining, and stone crushing activities in the entire area of Rishi-Ganga and Dhauli Ganga sub-basin.
According to the Court, the petitioners failed to convince their status as a 'social-activist'. In this regard, the Court noted,
"They have neither mentioned if they had spearhead a social movement, or raised any social issue on any previous occasion, nor have they submitted any evidence to show that they are the part of a Non-Governmental Organization, or a Social Activist Organization."
The plea, apart from revocation of forest and environment clearances and cancellation of ongoing projects, sought directions against the NTPC and Rishi Ganga Hydro Power Ltd. to be black-listed from Hydro Power Sector for inflicting irreparable damage to the local ecology through willful non-compliance and violations of the various environmental norms and recommendations of the Supreme Court expert body.
It also sought to compensate the affected families who lost one or more members of their family. It also sought directions against the State of Uttarakhand to ensure secure and safe rehabilitation of the Raini village and ecological restoration of the affected areas; the hydro project's proponents may give the cost of rehabilitation and restoration works of the affected areas.
The petitioners were seeking directions to fix accountability on respondents for criminal negligence in continuing the unscientific and harmful construction and operation of hydropower projects in the disaster-prone area without any early warning system, causing losses of more than two hundred lives and initiation of legal proceedings against the culprits as per the law.
Costs of Rs. 10,000 was imposed on the petitioner to be deposited to the High Court Advocates' Welfare Fund.
Title: Sangram Singh & Ors v. Union of India & Ors.
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