Free press journal: Mumbai: Saturday, 20 December 2014.
The Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered an independent inquiry to be set up to look into all the irrigation irregularities.
A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Mayank Gandhi that seeks for an inquiry into sanctioning of dam projects in the Konkan division, citing irregularities in the sanction of the under construction Kondhane dam project over Ulhas river.
The petitioner alleged that Right to Information (RTI) inquires revealed no clearances were sought from the environment and archeological departments before the project began, even as 216 hectares of forest would be affected and Kondhane Caves, a Nationally Protected Monument of the Archaeological Survey of India, were located within the catchment area of the dam.
According to the PIL, the construction of the dam began without the permission of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), railway authorities and Archeological Survey of India, despite the fact that large tract of forest land and monuments would be affected, and the dam was close to a railway line.
The PIL alleges that no need-based study was conducted, no impact assessment was made and no technical clearance of any nature was done before or even after sanctioning the dam, adding that no proper assessment of drinking water, irrigation water and water of industrial use through the river basin of the Ulhas River had been done ever since the last report of Chitale Commission in 1982, the recommendations of which are completely flouted by this project.
A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice A S Gadkari has allowed an independent inquiry in five dams mentioned in the Chitale committee to stop payment to all the contractors and that no additional work should take place after today.
Advocate General Sunil Manohar has sought time for the state to file its reply in an affidavit. The next hearing is scheduled for January 20.