Himachal Pradesh High Court: In a writ petition filed against the illegal dumping of muck in the forest area by the contractors of National Highways Authority of India (‘NHAI’), a division bench of M.S. Ramachandra Rao CJ. and Ajay Mohan Goel J. has impleaded Union of India as respondents, seeking response as to what it intends to do to ensure that the officials of NHAI do not permit muck dumping either in the forest areas of the State or water bodies and for removal of the muck already dumped by their contractors.
The petitioner complained of illegal muck dumping tin the forest area by the contractors of NHAI entrusted with the work of constructing the fourth lane Kiratpur Nerchowk National Highway
The Court noted that, NHAI in its reply stated that Rs. 8,45,700 has been paid to the concessioner to the State on account of the illegal muck dumping in the forest, however, what steps it had taken to remove the muck has not been mentioned.
The Court remarked that the payment of the said money won’t dissolve the illegal muck dumped automatically and make it disappear in the air. Further, the Court showed distress over the irresponsible conduct of the officials of NHAI in not controlling their contractors from dumping muck into forest areas, highlighting that many similar complaints have been received against the contractors
The Court suo motu implead the Union of India, through Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, as a party respondent in the writ petition.
Further, the Court has sought a response from the Union of India regarding what it intends to do to ensure that the officials of NHAI do not permit muck dumping either in the forest areas of the State or near water bodies. Further, it said that some accountability must be fixed on the NHAI officials in this regard. The matter will next be taken up on 20-07-2023.
[Fourlane Visthapit and Prabhavit Samiti v. State of H.P., 2023 SCC OnLine HP 745, Order dated 26-06-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Counsel for Petitioner: Advocate Umesh Kanwar;
Counsel for Respondent: Advocate General Anup Rattan Additional Advocate General Navleshh Verma, Additional Advocate General Pranay Pratap Singh, Deputy Advocate General Arsh Rattan, Deputy Advocate General Sidharth Jalta.