The High Court of Uttarakhand had stayed the construction of two hydropower projects in Uttarakhand because of illegal muck dumping. The Supreme Court over ruled the High Court and allowed construction. Earlier the Supreme Court had done the same.
The story starts around 2010 when Srinagar Hydropower Project being made over river alaknanda in Uttarakhand was indiscriminately dumping muck into the Alaknanda River. At least four Government Committees had found that muck was being dumped illegally by the project into the river, namely, Forest Advisory Committee, two committee of Ministry of Environment and Forest, a committee headed by advocate commissioner Shri A D N Rao. Thee Forest Advisory Committee had even recommended that work on project should be stopped because of illegal muck dumping, but the Ministry was not in favour of acting on this recommendation. The matter was then raised before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
In the meanwhile the validity of the environmental clearance to the project was challenged before the Supreme Court. In this proceeding, the Supreme Court transferred the matter of muck dumping from National Green Tribunal to itself. The Supreme Court has right to transfer any case in any court in country to itself so and interfere in the same. After the case was transferred to the Supreme Court, instead of considering the commitments of these committees, Supreme Court asked to Ministry of Environment to appoint one more committee. Now this committee was headed by Arun Kumar, Scientist of IIT Roorkee. Arun Kumar gave a clean chit to the Srinagar Project. The Supreme Court gave clean chit to the project based upon this report.
The credibility of Arun Kumar is questionable. He was favourite of the ministry. The ministry had given him the responsibility of undertaking study on Cumulative Environmental Impacts of Hydropower projects in Uttarakhand. His report was rubbished by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court observed in his judgement on Srinagar Project that Arun Kumar’s report has not actually looked at Cumulative impacts at all.
Now Arun Kumar gave a clean chit to the Srinagar Project and the Supreme Court despite objection of the Petitioner, accepted the report of the Arun Kumar and allowed the project to continue despite indiscriminate muck dumping in river Alaknanda.
Then came the floods of 2013. Large amount of muck that was illegally dumped by the Srinagar project was eroded by the river. The illegally dumped muck got deposited in the riverbed.
This made the riverbed to rise by about 10 feet. Consequently, the water level also increased. This water entered both the powerhouse of the Srinagar project as well as large numbers of houses in Bhaktiyana area of the Srinagar. The national highway 58 was filled with muck and water closed for many days.
The above sequence of events shows that the Supreme Court is happy to allow the construction of the project despite illegal activities. Supreme Court is not concerned about the impacts of such illegality. The suffering of the people of Bhaktiyana is only due to the Judges of the Supreme Court. They must be held accountable for giving such judgement in the favour of illegal muck dumping.
Now the Supreme Court has once again repeated its mistake. It has now allowed the construction of the Singoli Bhatwari and Vishnugad Pipalkoti Power Projects by staying the decision of the Uttarakhand High Court. The illegal muck dumping will now continue and will again cause damages to environment and people of the Uttarakhand for which the Supreme Court will be responsible.