ANUJ JOSHI AND ORS. Vs. CHIEF CONSERVATOR OF FORESTS AND ORS.
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Anuj Joshi And Ors.
Chief Conservator Of Forests And Ors.
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(1.) This contempt petition under Sections 2(3) and 15 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 read with Article 129 of the Constitution of India alleges violation of directions contained in judgment and order dated 13.08.2013 passed by this Court in Alaknanda Hydro Power Company Limited vs. Anuj Joshi and others, 2014 1 SCC 769 (C.A. No.6736/2013 with Civil Appeal No.6746-6747/2013 and Transferred Case No.55 to 57 of 2013). Four persons are arrayed as alleged contemnors in this petition. However, during the course of arguments, the petitioners gave up their case against alleged contemnor Nos.3 and 4. We are also satisfied that no case is made out against them and as such the proceedings against them are dropped. We therefore, confine ourselves in respect of alleged act of contempt on part of alleged contemnor Nos.1 and 2.
(2.) In the judgment and order dated 13.08.2013 this Court had passed certain directions in paragraph 51. We may quote said paragraph 51 :
"51. We are also deeply concerned with the recent tragedy, which has affected the Char Dham Area of Uttarakhand. Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIG) recorded 350mm of rain on June 15-16, 2013. Snowfall ahead of the cloudburst also has contributed to the floods resulting in the burst on the banks of Chorabari lake near Kedarnath, leading to large scale calamity leading to loss of human lives and property. The adverse effect of the existing projects, projects under construction and proposed, on the environment and ecology calls for a detailed scientific study. Proper Disaster Management Plan, it is seen, is also not in place, resulting in loss of lives and property. In view of the above mentioned circumstances, we are inclined to give following directions:
(1) We direct the MoEF as well as State of Uttarakhand not to grant any further environmental clearance or forest clearance for any hydroelectric power project in the State of Uttarakhand, until further orders.
(2) MoEF is directed to constitute an Expert Body consisting of representatives of the State Government, WII, Central Electricity Authority, Central Water Commission and other expert bodies to make a detailed study as to whether Hydroelectric Power Projects existing and under construction have contributed to the environmental degradation, if so, to what extent and also whether it has contributed to the present tragedy occurred at Uttarakhand in the month of June, 2013.
(3) MoEF is directed to examine, as noticed by WII in its report, as to whether the proposed 24 projects are causing significant impact on the biodiversity of Alaknanda and Bhagirath River basins.
(4) The Disaster Management Authority, Uttrarakhand would submit a Report to this Court as to whether they had any Disaster Management Plan is in place in the State of Uttarakhand and how effective that plan was for combating the present unprecedented tragedy at Uttarakhand."
(3.) It is alleged in the present petition as under:
"That it has come to petitioners' knowledge that forest land for Vishnugad- Pipalkoti Project has been transferred to Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC). The current status of the project as displayed on website of THDC states that "G.O. by GoUK for transfer of 80.507 ha of forest land has been issued vide letter dated 6th December, 2013." According to news report dated 23.12.2013 work contract for the construction of Vishnugad-Pipalkoti projects has been awarded recently. These activities can be undertaken only after Government of Uttarakahand issues Forest Clearance. The petitioner has sent Right to Information request for copies of Forest Clearance regarding Vishnugad-Pipalkoti and Kotlibhel 1A to Respondents Nos 1,2 and 3 on 26.2.2013 which remain unreplied on the date of filing this petition. Though Stage 1 and Stage 2 Forest clearances were issued to the Vishnugad-Pipalkoti project before 13.08.2013, however, State Government appears to have issued Forest Clearance after 13.08.2013 which is in contempt of the judgment of this Hon'ble Court.";
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