Friday, February 3, 2023

Gauhati High Court closes a PIL filed by Adi tribe on building Hydro power project over Siang river

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The Gauhati High Court has closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the petitioners, who are indigenous people belonging to Adi tribe are raising serious issues with regard to the initiative of the Government to build Hydro-Power Projects in the Siang valley over the River Siang and its tributaries.

It is specifically alleged that as many as 233 Nos. of Memorandum of Agreements (MoAs) / Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) have been executed and out of those, 50 Nos. were over the Siang River and its tributaries. It has been alleged that the projects have been initiated in a reckless manner without having any regard to the consequences of the same and without following any scientific research.

The PIL which was instituted in the year 2014 is pending and in the meantime, pleadings have been exchanged including an additional affidavit filed recently on 26.07.2022.

The High Court on the last occasion on being apprised that most of the projects are not functional had directed the counsel for the petitioners to suggest some measures as pre-conditions to ensure the safety and security of the people who could be affected by such projects.

K. Ete , Advocate General, however, by drawing the attention of the Itanagar Division Bench of Justice S. K. Medhi and Justice Malasri Nandi to the additional affidavit dated 26.07.2022 has submitted that all the projects have been abandoned and the process for cancellation of the contracts, if any, are also to be taken up. He further submitted that in case of any such projects being taken up, the same can be done only by following the procedure established in law including clearance from statutory authorities in which the adequate safeguard and safety of the indigenous people would be taken care of.

By referring to Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the l Advocate General submitted that under the said Act there are adequate provisions including Sections 4 and 7 to look after the situations of this nature which has been contemplated by the petitioners. He accordingly, stated that in the event any such move is taken in the future, all necessary precautions would be taken.

After hearing both the parties and taking into consideration the submissions made on behalf of the State by the Advocate General, the Court opined that there is no reason to keep the PIL pending as the same has become infructuous.

The PIL is accordingly closed. However, it is stated by the Court that in the event the State of Arunachal Pradesh takes a decision to go ahead with construction of dams, those are required to be done strictly with accordance with law and take into consideration the safety, security and all other aspects of the affected people.

It is further, observed by the Bench that in case of any such violation, the petitioners or any other affected persons will be in liberty to approach the Court.

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