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SC Seeks Muck Disposal Plan from Uttarakhand Govt, Lets Construction of Hydro Projects Continue

On Friday, a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur stayed this direction after hearing Additional Solicitors General Tushar Mehta and Pinky Anand on behalf of the Uttarakhand government and the Environment Ministry.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:August 12, 2018, 1:44 PM IST
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SC Seeks Muck Disposal Plan from Uttarakhand Govt, Lets Construction of Hydro Projects Continue
File image of the Supreme Court building. (PTI)
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has lifted an order of restraint, which had virtually stalled construction of hydropower projects in Uttarakhand.

In a major relief for the state government, the court stayed the directive issued by the Uttarakhand High Court in June.

By this directive, the HC had held that till the muck disposal sites are identified and become operational, "all construction activities/widening of roads on the river banks in the state shall remain stayed". This order put a stop on all construction activities and hydropower projects were hit the most.

The state government moved the Supreme Court in appeal against the order.

On Friday, a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur stayed this direction after hearing Additional Solicitors General Tushar Mehta and Pinky Anand on behalf of the Uttarakhand government and the Environment Ministry.

While vacating the restraint, the bench maintained that the concerns of the HC require to be appropriately addressed by the authorities and that indiscriminate dumping of muck in the river Mandakini and Alaknanda could not be permitted.

For this, the bench asked the state government to file an affidavit "giving an indication of the identification of muck disposal sites along with photographs”.

The court made it clear that the HC order was being stayed temporarily and that it would be reviewed after three weeks when the Uttarakhand government adduces a plan to address the concerns about muck disposal.

It also issued a notice to petitioner, NGO Himadri Jan Kalyan Sansthan. It had submitted in the HC that the the haphazard muck disposal in the rivers has changed the natural course of the river, causing unnatural rise in the riverbed.

Allowing the PIL, the HC had underlined that the muck and excavated material is dumped into the river directly to save the cost of transportation.

"The free flow of rivers is impeded. The pollution has been caused by the muck and excavated material. It has caused immense damage to the rivers' ecology and surrounding areas," it said in the June 11 judgment.

The need of the hour is sustainable development, stated the HC and added, "The companies involved in hydro-electric projects and developers cannot be permitted to use the rivers as dumping sites."
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