New Delhi: The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the Uttarakhand High Court verdict that had dismissed a petition seeking the cancellation of NTPC‘s Tapovan-Vishnugad and Rishi Ganga Hydro Projects in the state. In its July 2021 judgement, the high court noted that the plea seems to be a “highly motivated petition” which was filed at the behest of an unknown person or entity. The high court had said it was not convinced with the bona fide of the petition.
The plea challenging the high court order came up for hearing before a bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka, which observed that there were “sweeping prayers” in the public interest litigation (PIL) filed before the high court.
“The petition filed before the high court was a completely unstructured petition and thus, we are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order under Article 136 of the Constitution of India,” the bench said in its order.
“We are, however, not giving our imprimatur to the observations in the impugned judgement so far as some of the persons who had raised the importance of environment before and were before the Court and possibly their contribution should not have been tarred, to that extent,” it said.
The apex court made it clear that since the judgement was passed in a PIL if there are any affected parties, that does not foreclose their rights.
“The special leave petition is dismissed in terms aforesaid,” it said.
PIL had sought scrapping of green clearances to Rishi Ganga and Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydro Projects
Before the high court, the five petitioners, residents of Chamoli district, had sought directions to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the Uttarakhand government to revoke the forest clearances and environmental clearances granted prior to February 2021, to the Rishi Ganga and Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydro Projects “since the old clearances have become redundant in the current post-flood scenario”.
Besides seeking cancellation of the Tapovan-Vishnugad and Rishi Ganga Hydro Projects “in view of future safety and stability” of the terrain, the plea had also sought a direction to the MoEF&CC and the Ministry of Jalshakti to initiate ecological restoration of the entire watershed area of the rishi Ganga sub-basin to ensure the future stability of the terrain.
It had said the state should ensure secure and safe rehabilitation of Raini village along with ecological restoration of the affected areas and the cost of rehabilitation and restoration works of the affected areas may be given by the proponents of the hydro project.
The Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Plant is a 520 MW run-of-river hydroelectric project being constructed on Dhauliganga River in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand by NTPC Limited.
Rishi Ganga is a 105MW hydro power project. It is planned on Rishi Ganga river/basin in Uttarakhand.
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