Wednesday, February 28, 2024

GAIL may consider all factors while implementing project pipeline and fiber optic cable: Calcutta High Court

The Calcutta High Court has observed that the authorities of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) may take into consideration all relevant factors while implementing the project (installing gas pipeline and fiber optic cable).

The Division Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya disposed of a public interest litigation by the petitioner, who is a practicing advocate of the Court and hails from Purba Medinipur District has expressed certain apprehensions about the method of excavation/tunneling, which will be adopted by the GAIL while installing gas pipeline and for fiber optic cable.

According to the petitioner, GAIL has been adopting the open cut method, which will not be suitable for the area in question and it cannot be adopted as an uniform procedure for laying of the gas pipeline or for laying of the optic fiber cable throughout the State of West Bengal. In this regard, a representation was given by the petitioner on 2nd August, 2023, which was sent by speed post and without even waiting for a reasonable period of time, the petitioner has approached the Court by way of filing the petition.

The advocate appearing for GAIL submitted that the tunneling process is a highly technical matter and this is being done by the authority of GAIL after conducting a preliminary survey in the presence of the concerned officials of the State Government and depending upon the area in question, type of tunneling is adopted namely, in certain areas it has been found that open cut method is most suitable and in certain areas deep tunneling is done for which the contractor, who has been engaged is being adequately compensated.

Further from the documents, which are annexed in the petition, the Court found that on several occasions the Government of West Bengal, more particularly the Irrigation and Waterways Department had pointed out difficulties of implementing the open cut method in certain areas and accordingly has informed GAIL. Admittedly, the project of laying the gas pipeline and for laying the optic fiber cable is in public interest and it is best that the technical aspects are left to the officials to decide and it is not for this Court to suggest the ways and means, which are to be adopted by the authorities.

The High Court find from the documents annexed in the said petition that the Irrigation and Waterways Department of the Government of West Bengal has placed their suggestions to GAIL, which obviously would be considered by GAIL and until and unless a no objection certificate is granted, the work cannot be proceeded with.

Therefore, the Bench is of the view that the apprehension expressed by the petitioner has been sufficiently safeguarded and all that “we can observe is that the authorities of GAIL may take into consideration all relevant factors while implementing the project, which is undoubtedly of public importance.”


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