Friday, June 9, 2023

Gauhati High Court disposes of PIL against change in site for pond under Central scheme

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The Gauhati High Court disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a few residents of Chirang District in Assam against a pond being dug up under the Amrit Sorovar scheme of the Government of India.

According to the petitioners, the site which was originally selected for the pond was abandoned and the site that was chosen subsequently is close to a river flowing nearby.

G. Goswami, the counsel for the petitioners, submitted that this change of site and choosing a site for digging up the pond besides a river is not only unfeasible but also is contrary to the guidelines under Mission Amrit Sorovor. According to the petitioners, the present site chosen by the respondent authority for digging up the pond is close to Pakhajani River at No. 1 Supariguri village in the district of Chirang and there is a serious apprehension that during the monsoon, the Pakhajani River will overflow and the flood water will break through the barrier of the pond and the very purpose of digging the pond under the said scheme will be frustrated.

The counsel for the petitioners has referred to photographs to project that the original site, where the foundation stone was laid down for the pond is not the site where the pond is proposed to be dug up. It is also pointed out by the learned counsel for the petitioners that the original site selected for the pond is away from the Pakhajani River. Learned counsel for the petitioners has also referred to the guidelines of Mission Amrit Sorovor, which provide that for implementation of the Amrit Sorovor scheme, including selection of site, technologies like remote sensing and geospatial etc. be used to optimize the benefit of the scheme.

Goswami has expressed apprehensions that in view of the monsoon setting in shortly in Assam, unless urgent steps are taken to secure the interest of the petitioners, the entire efforts and the very purpose of digging up the pond under the Amrit Sorovor Mission will be frustrated.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Soumitra Saikia found that a representation dated 02.01.2023 was submitted by the petitioners before the Deputy Commissioner, Chirang, ventilating the grievance raised in this PIL petition. According to the petitioner, no step has yet been taken by the authorities for redressal of the grievance ventilated in the aforesaid representation.

Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, the Court is of the view that the present PIL petition can be disposed of with the direction to the Deputy Commissioner, Chirang, to look into the grievance of the petitioners ventilated in the aforesaid representation dated 02.01.2023 and to pass appropriate speaking orders after making due verification. Any such orders shall be passed after affording due opportunity of hearing to the petitioners and such orders shall be communicated to the petitioners.

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