Courts Update Supreme Court restores appeal filed by Mandakini Badh Prabhavit...

Supreme Court restores appeal filed by Mandakini Badh Prabhavit Samiti seeking more compensation for 2012 Uttarakhand flood victims

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New Delhi Sept 3(ILNS): The Supreme Court today restored the appeal filed by “Mandakini Badh Prabhavit Samiti” before the National Green Tribunal, which was previously dismissed by NGT, due to nonpayment of Court fees, in their appeal seeking enhanced compensation to victims whose houses washed away in 2013-Uttarakhand Floods (Disaster). 

A three-judge bench comprising of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, and Justice CT Ravikumar today directed the matter to be remitted back to the National Green Tribunal for fresh consideration on merits. It admitted the appeal and directed the Original Application before the NGT to be revived. 

It recorded that in the interest of justice, by way of indulgence and that the appellant is representing the persons affected by flood and is espousing the cause of the claimants, it condoned the delay in depositing court fee. The Bench also held that they are not expressing any opinion on merits of the case. 

Activities of L&T Uttaranchal Hydropower Ltd resulted in washing away of houses of Victims: Plea Claimed

The petitioner association has claimed that activities of the L&T Uttaranchal Hydropower Ltd have resulted in washing away of the houses of the victims in Village Chandrapuri, Bhatwari Sunar, Butol and Gabni located in district Rudraprayag and loss to the property. 

The NGT had dismissed their original application as the requisite court fee had not been paid. The Supreme Court had earlier directed the requisite court fee to be deposited to the Registry of the Supreme Court. 

Arguments Raised

Mr. K.V. Viswanathan appearing for L&T Uttranchal Hydropower Ltd. tried to place before the court that the matter is not an environmental issue and the claimants only want to extract money. 

Mr. Sanat Kumar, AAG for Uttrakhand submitted that the State was not concerned with the matter. The Supreme Court Bench remarked that it is for the Tribunal to decide. 

Background

This appeal challenged the order of the NGT, Principal Bench which had vide order dated 26.09.2019 dismissed the application of the Mandakini Badh Prabhavit Samiti for want of court fee. 

It was contended before the NGT that the activities of L&T Uttranchal Hydropower Ltd. has resulted in washing away of the houses of victims in Rudraprayag district. L&T UHL was implementing a 99 MW run-of-the-river Singoli – Bhatwari Hydroelectric project on Mandakini River, in the Garhwal region in Rudraprayag District in Uttarakhand.

On the last date of hearing on August 27, the Supreme Court had deferred the matter with the direction that no request for further adjournment will be entertained.

Facts of the Case 

During the flood event on June 16-17, 2013, the barrage of the project got blocked by boulders and led to the accumulation of sediments and waters behind the barrage. Then the barrage broke on the right side and the accumulated waters suddenly came out of the broken opening. The floodwaters then moved like a snake, hitting the left and right banks downstream of the barrage destroying the houses located thereon. 

State Government vide order June 27, 2013, granted relief aid to Rs. 2 Lakhs for the hardship caused by the flood victims on account of loss incurred by them Further, vide order dated October 11, 2013, Rs. 5 Lakhs was paid under the ‘Owner Driven Construction for Houses’ policy which covered all those houses which were fully damaged in the flood event. The members of the applicant association (before NGT) are the beneficiaries of the scheme and have received the abovementioned amounts under the same. 

Before the NGT, the applicant submits that the amount granted was not based on a proper evaluation of the damage caused to the houses considering the actual value of the houses in the year 2013./ILNS/SC/KR/SNG

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