Union of India & five others. .....Respondents
Dated: 18th May 2009
Hon. V.K. Gupta, CJ
Hon. V.K. Bisht, J.
By this order this writ petition is being disposed of finally with the consent and agreement of the parties. With the consent and agreement of the parties the following agreed order is accordingly being passed. By a communication dated 19.02.2009 issued by Shri D.C. Shrivastava Director, Ministry of Power, Government of India addressed to professor G.D. Agarwal/respondent no.6, herein, the Government of India decided to suspend the work on Loharinag-Pala Barrage Project on Bhagirathi River with immediate effect. This order is the subject matter of challenge in the present writ petition.
On 26.02.2009 a Division Bench of this Court passed an ad-interim order directing that the aforesaid decision of the Government of India shall not be acted upon until further orders from this Court.
Vide notification S.O.521(E) dated 20.02.2009, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, in exercise of the powers vesting in it under Sub Sections (1) and (3) of Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 constituted National Ganga River Basin Authority (Authority, for short) composition whereof is mentioned in para 3 of the said notification. Whereas the Prime Minister of India is the Ex-Officio Chairman of the said Authority, Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is its Ex-Officio Member Secretary.
The entire issue relating to the Loharinag-Pala Barrage Project on Bhagirathi River in District Uttarkashi in the State of Uttarakhand, viz. whether to continue with this project or not to continue, is hereby referred for consideration by the aforesaid Authority. It shall be entirely up to the Authority to either decide the issue entirely by itself, on the basis of the material available or to be collected or, before taking up the issue for its own consideration, to constitute an experts committee for furnishing to it requisite information and/or rendering it proper advice in the matter. Actually this Court is of the opinion that before taking up the issue for its own consideration the Authority actually constitutes an experts committee, as broad based as possible and as representative in character as is feasible, so that this Experts Committee formulates its opinion, arrives at its conclusions and submit its recommendations to the Authority for its consideration and taking a final decision in the matter.
This Court hopes and trusts that the experts committee, if it is so decided to be constituted by the Authority, is constituted within four weeks from today and it submits its recommendations to the Authority within two months thereafter. If the experts committee has to be constituted, the Ex-Officio Member Secretary of the Authority shall obtain directions from its Chairman for the said purpose. The Authority is requested by us to finalise its decision soon after the receipt of the report/recommendation from the Experts Committee.
Mr. Arvind Vashistha, learned Assistant Solicitor General of India undertakes to convey this order to all concerned in the Government of India, more particularly the Ex-Officio Member Secretary of the Authority as well as to the Ministries of Power and Environment and Forests, Government of India for their information as well as its implementation and compliance in letter and spirit. He shall do so positively within one week from today.
Interim order passed by this Court on 26.02.2009 is hereby vacated but we leave it open to the Experts Committee or the Authority to adopt any interim measure in the meanwhile in best public interest as is deemed appropriate and suitable.
Petition disposed of finally on the basis of the aforesaid agreed order