NIME A. SANGMA Vs. STATE OF MEGHALAYA
HIGH COURT OF MEGHALAYA
Nime A. Sangma
STATE OF MEGHALAYA
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H.S. Thangkhiew, j. -
(1.) This instant Misc. application filed along with the main writ petition is with a prayer for staying the operation of the impugned Section 19 Declaration dated 08.06.2020 under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 issued by the Respondent No. 3, to restrain the respondents particularly respondent No. 16 from proceeding with the widening of NH- 51 and further not to demolish structures, fell trees or destroy crops in the execution of the project during the pendency of the writ petition.
(2.) Mr. H.L. Shangreiso, learned counsel submits that the petitioners are land owners of both agricultural and homestead land on either side of the existing National Highway 51 from Tura to Dalu in West Garo Hills, and that a project is under way to widen the existing road into a double lane. He submits that in spite of a clear finding that the existing single land NH 51 is only 4.57 meters including the paved shoulders and that the required extension is upto 10 meters to make the existing road into two lane which includes the land of the petitioners, the respondents had taken over the same as part of the Right of Way (ROW) without any record or evidence of previous acquisition. Mr. H.L. Shangreiso, learned counsel in this regard had also placed before the Court the report on the description of the project and has also annexed photographs of trees that have been felled and soil being excavated from the site of the project.
(3.) Learned counsel submits that the arbitrary actions of the respondents without proper survey and the destruction of the property and occupation of their land without due process is illegal and has resulted in irreparable loss being caused to the petitioners. As such, he prays that appropriate interim orders be passed to stay the on-going project during the pendency of the writ petition.
Mr. S. Sen, learned Senior GA has resisted this prayer and submits that it is not a fact that there was no public hearing at the commencement of the project, and that the Social Impact Assessment Report had been prepared and submitted after completion of public hearing in all the villages. He further submits that the Patta issued by the GHADC to the petitioners clearly states that 35 ft. land from the centre of a Government or local road cannot be counted as land within the Patta. He therefore asserts that by this definition itself none of the petitioners' land adjoining the Highway within the project site is affected. He therefore submits that there is no case for any interim orders and that the project being of crucial public importance is of extreme necessity for the entire area. Learned counsel has also placed the decision of Raunaq International Ltd. v. I.V.R Construction Ltd. and Ors. reported in (1999) 1 SCC 492 in support of his case.
Having heard the learned counsels on the interim matter and given my thoughtful consideration to the prayer of the petitioners, it is noticed firstly that the widening project, by the own statement of the petitioners has commenced since the middle of 2019. The petitioners have come before this Court only after the impugned Declaration 08.06.2020 under Section 19 (1) was published which by their estimation has excluded other sizeable portions of their land. As per the Declaration, hearings were already conducted as per Section 15 of the Act, the report of which is annexed at Annexure-22 of the writ petition. Looking into the facts and circumstances as they stand at this stage, the petitioners having approached this Court after a considerable period of time after commencement of the project, the question of any orders issuing to suspend the same does not arise and this prayer is rejected.
However, as there is a significant removal of trees and also some demolition of structures from the project site, it is expected that the respondents or the agency engaged in the project, maintain records as to the specific areas from where the number and size of trees have been felled and removed and also keep records of the location of the pucca structures which have been demolished in the course of widening the Highway which will be subject to further orders to be passed by this Court. ;
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