The Uttarakhand High Court has dismissed a PIL that sought revocation of green clearances granted to Rishi Ganga and Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel projects in Chamoli district, where more than 200 people lost their lives in a flash flood this February, 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.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma passed this order, while hearing a PIL filed by Sangram Singh and others.
Petitioners Sangram Singh, Sohan Singh and Bhawan Rana claim to be the residents of village Raini (Palla), District Chamoli and Petitioner no 4 and 5 (Atul Sati and Kamal Raturi) claim to be the residents of Joshimath, District Chamoli.
The plea said that they further claim to be ‘social activists’. However, there is no piece of evidence produced by these petitioners to establish the fact that they are ‘social activists’. They have neither mentioned if they had spearheaded a social movement, or raised any social issue on any previous occasion, nor have they submitted any evidence to show that they are part of a Non-Governmental Organisation, or a Social Activist Organisation.
Yet, their prayers are that respondent No 1, the Union of India, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, should be directed to revoke the forest clearances and environmental clearances granted prior to February, 2021 to Rishi Ganga and Tapovan-Vishnugarh Hydro Projects. Their other prayer is that the projects, which are already under construction, should be cancelled by the Court.
The Court said the plea seems to be a highly-motivated petition, which has been filed at the behest of an unknown person or entity. The unknown person or entity is merely using the petitioners as a front. Therefore, the petitioners are merely puppets at the hands of an unknown puppeteer.
“Needless to say, this certainly amounts to abuse of the PIL jurisdiction. Therefore, the Court is not convinced with the bona fide of the petition. Hence, this petition is dismissed, while imposing costs of Rs 10,000 on each of the petitioner.
The petitioners are directed to deposit Rs 10,000 each before the Registrar General of the Court within a period of two weeks. The said amount shall be transferred into the High Court Advocates’ Welfare Fund”, the Court ordered.