Meghalaya High Court: The Division Bench of Biswanath Somadder, CJ. and H.S. Thangkhiew, J., took up a Public Intrest Litigation which was filed highlighting the issue of cutting/felling of trees (some of which are of considerable heritage) for the purpose of widening of National Highway 40, which connects Shillong to Dawki (commonly referred to as the Shillong-Dawki road), particularly in the vicinity of the Eastern Air Command.

The Bench constituted a 5 member High Powered Committee considering that the issue was concerned with the public interest at large. The Court stated that the committee shall look into the specific grievances as sought to be highlighted in the instant PIL and a comprehensive report shall be submitted by the HPC on the next date, after conducting a thorough and detailed enquiry with regard to the issue as highlighted and upon inspection of the actual site. The Committee constitutes of:

  • Shri Amit Kumar, learned Advocate General;
  • Shri Kaustav Paul, learned Senior Advocate, who is appearing in-person in the instant P.I.L.;
  • A representative of the Forests & Environment Department, Government of Meghalaya at Shillong;
  • A representative of respondent10, namely, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.; and
  • A member of general public, namely, Shri Jiwat Vaswani

The Court further added that it shall be open to the HPC to suggest means to resolve the highlighted issue raised in the instant PIL without compromising either with conservation of the trees (some of which are of considerable heritage) and environment on one hand and development/expansion of the road project on the other.[Kaustav Paul v. Union of India, PIL No.7 of 2021, decided on 30-06-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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