NGT Slaps a fine of Rs 50,000 on Karnataka, Manipur

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each on Karnataka and Manipur for not filing statements on maintenance of green cover along highways and the number of trees proposed to be cut for various projects.
A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim noted that Karnataka and Manipur have not furnished information on road stretches in different areas of these states where trees have been felled and areas identified for compensatory afforestation.

“We impose a fine of Rs 50,000 each upon States of Karnataka and Manipur for not filing the statement and give them a time of one week. In case of failure, they will be liable to further pay cost and their right will be forfeited.

“The cost should be deposited within one week … Out of Rs 50,000, cost of 50 per cent shall be transferred to the Legal Aid Fund of the NGT Bar Association at New Delhi and the rest balance amount to the Central Pollution Control Board,” the bench said.

During the hearing, the Jammu and Kashmir government told the tribunal that it has already forwarded the statement to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The counsel for Karnataka said the state has already sent the statement to the Environment Ministry and the tribunal should not impose a fine on it.
The tribunal, however, said it would consider the submission on July 24, the next date of hearing.
The NGT was hearing a plea filed by lawyer Sushil Raaja regarding maintenance of green cover along highways.

In a detailed order, the NGT had earlier directed all state governments and local authorities to encourage plantation in public parks and other places wherever possible to plant additional trees to ensure better environment and provide protection to ambient air quality.

Supreme Court asks Water Resources Secy to bring draft Cauvery management scheme

The Supreme Court today directed the Secretary of the Union Water Resources Ministry to personally appear before it on May 14 with a draft of the Cauvery management scheme for implementation of its verdict on water sharing between four states including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra told the Centre that once the judgment has been delivered on the issue, it has to be implemented.

“We do not want to come back to square one. Once the judgment has been delivered, it has to be implemented,” the bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal said the Centre was seeking time in view of the fact that the Union Cabinet has not met due to the ongoing campaigning for the assembly polls in Karnataka.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade , appearing for Tamil Nadu, opposed the plea and said “this is the fit case for contempt. Somebody has to be sent to jail”.

The bench then fixed the matter for further hearing in May 14.

The apex court had earlier asked the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute.

It had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.

The top court had on February 16 raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”.

Supreme Court asks Centre to apprise it on setting up CMB

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to apprise it on May 8 about steps taken for setting up of the Cauvery Management Board (CBM) for implementation of its judgement on distribution of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

The Centre, which was asked by the top court to frame and file a draft Cauvery management scheme by May 3, today asked it to hear the matter a day after the Karnataka polls on the ground that the draft scheme has to be put before the Union Cabinet for approval.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues are busy campaigning in Karnataka and hence the draft could not be placed before the Union Cabinet.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, took strong exception at the submission saying, “This is the end of co-operative federalism and the rule of law in the country. This is the partisan attitude of the union of India to favour Karnataka.”

He referred to the ongoing summer and the water crisis being faced by citizens of Tamil Nadu.

The bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud initially asked the Karnataka government to release four TMC of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu by May 8, but later directed the state to apprise it “as to how much water can be released”.

Earlier the apex court had asked the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to ensure that peace prevails till it finalises the Cauvery management scheme for implementation of its judgment on water distribution.

It said once the Centre places the draft scheme, which would also include Cauvery Water Management Board and Monitoring Authority, it would consider the grievances of all the stakeholder states.

The apex court, in its verdict, had asked the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute. It had modified the CWDT award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.

The top court had on February 16 raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”.

With the apex court’s verdict, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry would be annually entitled to 404.25 tmcft, 284.75 tmcft, 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft of Cauvery water respectively out of the total of 740 tmcft.

High Court asks cricket body if it will seek extra water for IPL pitches, ground

The Bombay High Court today sought to know from the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) if it would seek additional water supply from the Pune civic body for ground and pitch maintenance for six IPL matches shifted to that city from Chennai.

The MCA stadium at Gahunje in Pune will host the remaining six ‘home’ matches of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) after these were shifted from the southern city following protests over the Cauvery water-sharing issue in the Tamil Nadu capital.

A division bench of justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla sought the MCA response while hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Loksatta Movement in 2016.

Opposing holding of IPL matches in Maharashtra, the NGO had raised concerns over water usage for ground management at a time when the state was reeling under drought.

The bench was today informed by the petitioner’s lawyer that while originally 11 matches were to be played in Maharashtra during the ongoing IPL, six games, which were to be played in Chennai, have now been shifted to Pune.

The lawyer argued that the Pune city and rural areas of the district were already facing water shortage.

The judges then sought to know from the MCA, which manages the stadium, if it would be seeking more water than what is being already supplied to it by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Last week, the high court had posed the same query to the Mumbai Cricket Association, which manages the Wankhede stadium, another IPL venue.

The court had asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) if it would supply additional water to the stadium in South Mumbai.

The BMC today filed an affidavit, saying no special water supply would be given to the stadium.

The court posted the petition for further hearing on April 18.

The M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was the home ground of the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK. The IPL franchise played its first home match on April 10 against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Political parties and other groups in Tamil Nadu had demanded that all the IPL matches scheduled in Chennai be cancelled till the Centre forms the Cauvery Water Management Board. They held protests in support of their demand.

The Supreme Court had on February 16 pronounced its verdict on the Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

“The matches had to be shifted out of Chennai as police had said that they were unable to provide security in the prevailing situation” IPL Chairman Rajv Shukla had said on April 12.

SC pulls up five states for not appointing food commissions

SC pulls up five states for not appointing food commissions
SC pulls up five states for not appointing food commissions

The Supreme Court today pulled up the governments of drought-hit states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka for not appointing state food commissions or making them operational.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and N V Ramana, which had summoned the Chief Secretaries of ten states on the issue, directed that the state food commissions must be appointed as per the provisions of the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

The apex court pulled up Madhya Pradesh government for not appointing the members of the commission so far and said the “state is following a new procedure for selecting members by way of advertisements”.

The bench’s observation came when the state’s chief secretary said they have issued a notification for appointment of the commission on April 11 and selection of its members through an advertisement.

“Under what provisions of law have you issued notification for selection of members of commission? Is it a new procedure Madhya Pradesh has been following or are you following the precedent? Do you issue advertisements for selection of Chief Secretary or other departmental secretaries or for that matter cabinet ministers,” the bench asked.

The Madhya Pradesh counsel said it was a matter of transparency and once the application from interested candidates are received, these will be sorted by a committee headed by Chief Secretary and then sent to the Chief Minister.

To this, the bench observed that it feels that the state was not serious about appointing the commission.

“There are ways to circumvent law and it is unfortunate that senior officials are doing this,” it said, directing the Chief Secretary to be present on the next date of hearing in July.

The order came on a plea filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking reliefs for farmers in drought affected states.

With regard to Maharashtra, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the state said they had appointed five members of the commission but two members from SC/ST are yet to be appointed.

“This is extremely unfortunate that the deprived sections of society are being treated this way. You are not able to find two appropriate persons from the SC/ST community in the entire state,” the bench asked and directed Maharashtra Chief Secretary to appear before it again in the next hearing.

The apex court also pulled up Bihar government for not appointing two members of the commission, asking whether it thought that food for the people was not important.

“You have made appointment of five members. Why have you not made appointment of other two members till now? Do you think people of Bihar do not need food or do you think food for the people of Bihar is not important,” the bench said.

Bihar Chief Secretary said the appointment of the two other members will be done in two weeks and it was not done so far as no suitable candidates were found by the selection committee.

The apex court was told by Andhra Pradesh that though the selection committee has been constituted after the notification was issued on April 17 and the members of the commission will be appointed in six months.

Dissatisfied by the response, the bench asked the AP Chief Secretary also to be present on the next date of hearing and inform on the status of the food commission there.

The Chief Secretary of Karnataka government, who failed to appear, was directed by the bench to appear before it tomorrow.

With regard to Haryana, the apex court directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court to expeditiously decide a plea pending with it.

The bench, granted exemption to Chief Secretary of Chattisgarh due to the recent Naxal attack in which 25 CRPF jawans were killed and recorded that the commission has been appointed.

The bench also took on record the statements of chief secretaries of Gujarat, Jharkhand and Telangana that appointments to the state food commission have been done.

The hearing remained inconclusive and the bench posted the matter for tomorrow for further hearing on issues like MNREGA, crop loss, loan restructuring in the drought-hit states.

The apex court had on March 22, summoned the Chief Secretaries of ten such states for failing to implement the NFSA. It had said that with regard to the statute, the state governments have to appoint the food commission and cannot give a “go by to the statute enacted by the Parliament”.

The court had also impleaded the Reserve Bank of India as a party to the case as the guidelines issued for loan waiver and loan restructuring of farmers of drought-hit areas were not being implemented by the banks.

The PIL has claimed that parts of 12 states– Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh — were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.

The petitioners had claimed before the court that the directions issued by it in the matter were not complied with by these states.

( Source – PTI )

SC rejects K’taka’s review plea on release of Cauvery water

SC rejects K'taka's review plea on release of Cauvery water
SC rejects K’taka’s review plea on release of Cauvery water

The Supreme Court today dismissed a Karnataka government plea seeking review of its September 20, 2016 order asking it to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till September 27, saying it has become “infructuous” as several subsequent orders were passed.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit rejected the review plea and said that it has passed several orders subsequent to the September 20 direction and, hence the present plea deserves to become “extinct”.

The apex court had on September 20 last year directed the Karnataka government to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till September 27 while raising the quantum fixed by the Supervisory Committee by 3,000 cusecs.

Meanwhile, during the brief hearing, senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, raised the issue of severe drinking water crisis in the coastal state and alleged that Karnataka is not fullfilling its obligations.

“We are having severe drinking water problem in Tamil Nadu. But Karnataka is not giving that,” he said.

The apex court had on March 21 this year said that all interim orders of releasing 2000 cusecs of water by Karnataka will continue to be in force till further orders.

The court, in its September 20 last year order, had also directed the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) as asked by Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in its award.

The apex court had said it will commence on July 11 the final hearing of the appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) on sharing of water for 15 consecutive workings days.

( Source – PTI )

SC seeks report from K’taka on Cauvery water release

SC seeks report from K'taka on Cauvery water release
SC seeks report from K’taka on Cauvery water release

Supreme Court today asked the Karnataka government to apprise it by tomorrow afternoon whether it has released water to Tamil Nadu as directed by it on September 30.

The Centre also moved the apex court seeking modification of its earlier order asking it to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) by Tuesday.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, told the court that the Centre should not have been asked to constitute the CWMB as the main civil appeal on the issue was still pending and the task of setting up the CWMB fell under the domain of the Executive.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan listed the interim plea of the Centre for hearing tomorrow.

The apex court sought a report from Karnataka by 2 PM tomorrow on compliance of its order of September 30.

On September 30, SC had directed Karnataka to discharge 6,000 cusecs water from October 1-6, warning it that no one would know when the “wrath of the law” would fall on it.

The apex court had also directed the Centre to establish the CWMB, saying once it was constituted, its team would visit the sites to take a prima facie view of the ground reality and submit a report.

On October 1, Karnataka had moved a review petition in the apex court against its three orders on Cauvery water release to Tamil Nadu and direction to the Centre to create the CWMB.

In its review petition, Karnataka said “grave miscarriage of justice” has been caused to it pursuant to the three apex court orders of September 20, 27 and 30, by which it was directed to release 6000 cusecs of water till October 6 and the Centre was to constitute the Board by October 4.

( Source – PTI )

Plea in SC to maintain law and order in TN, Karnataka

Plea in SC to maintain law and order in TN, Karnataka
Plea in SC to maintain law and order in TN, Karnataka

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear tomorrow a plea seeking direction to the Centre, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to maintain law and order in these two states witnessing violent protests in the wake of a row over distribution of Cauvery water.

“Let it be listed tomorrow before the bench which is hearing it,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and A M Khanwilkar said.

Senior advocate Adish Aggarwala, appearing for P Shivakumar, sought urgent hearing of the PIL saying that tomorrow there is a state-wide bandh in Karnataka and, a day after, Tamil Nadu will have same kind of protest across that state.

He said the states be directed to take prompt action against the protesters to maintain law and order and provide security to private and public properties and the citizens of both the states.

Shivakumar, who claims to be a social activist, has also sought a direction that the leaders of the protest be held accountable for the damage caused to the properties and be asked to pay up for them.

On September 12, the apex court modified its earlier order on sharing of Cauvery water and directed Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs instead of 15,000 cusecs per day till September 20 to Tamil Nadu.

Rejecting Karnataka’s plea seeking placing in abeyance for its earlier order, the court asked the executives to ensure compliance.

The apex court bench was critical of the language used in the fresh plea of Karnataka seeking to keep in abeyance the September 5 order asking it to release 15,000 cusecs water per day to Tamil Nadu.

( Source – PTI )

No mining in Karnataka till R&R measures are implemented: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday said it would not allow resumption of mining activities of iron and ore in Karnataka unless there is a statutory compliance and full implementation of reclamation and rehabilitation measures.

“You don’t press for resumption of mining activities unless we are sure that there is a statutory compliance. No mining activities will resume unless reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) measures are fully implemented. All statutory compliance should be there,” a special forest bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said.

The bench, which accepted all recommendations of August 16 report of the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC), asked the authorities in Karnataka to fully cooperate in the implementation of the suggestions.

The report said there was no need for any order for resumption of mining activities till the recommendations are implemented for which all stake-holders had the meeting early this week.

The Bench granted the CEC two weeks to file a comprehensive report detailing the steps taken for statutory compliance, implementation of R&R measures and the permission needed for the resumption of mining.

The bench, also comprising justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, also asked the CEC to look into the claims of advocate Prashant Bhushan that other serious illegalities and environmental damages have been caused by those operating on category A mines and many of which are in forest area.

Bhushan was appearing for NGO, Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, which has filed PIL against the illegal mining and encroachment of forest areas in the state.

The apex court fixed August 23 to hear arguments on the CEC report of April 27 in which CBI investigation was recommended for theft of iron ore from Belekere port allegedly involving business houses.

No tree cutting for widening State highways

The Karnataka High Court on Friday, 27, restrained the Forest Department and other authorities from cutting down trees for widening some stretches of State highways in the Tumkur division. As many as 4,153 trees had been identified for felling.

 A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar, passed the interim order while modifying an earlier order of maintaining status quo on the tenders invited by the Forest Department in March for felling these trees. The Bench passed the order while hearing a public interest litigation petition initiated suo motu by the court based on a letter written by Arun Kumar G. from Tumkur complaining about felling of trees.

 During hearing, H. Srinivas Rao, advocate, who has been appointed amicus curiae, told the Bench that he inspected all these stretches recently and there was no significant traffic on the stretches between Gubbi and Tumkur; Yediyur and Kowdle Road; and on Yediyur Road, where as there is only some amount of traffic on the stretches between Gubbi and C.S. Pura Road, and Maddur and Huliyurdurga Road. “It appears that the widening project has been taken up due to pressure from contractors or agencies,” Mr. Rao told the Bench while pointing out that there are possibilities of widening the road without cutting trees.

 Counsel for the State government, responding to a query from the court during an earlier hearing, said that 2,400 trees have been cut of which 150 trees were big, vital local species and the rest Acacia varieties. He said that these stretches were being widened at a cost of Rs. 250 crore under the State Highways Improvement Project under public-private partnership through build-operate-transfer scheme.

 Meanwhile, the Bench ordered notices to the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project, the National Highways Authority of India, the Karnataka Road Development Corporation, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force), the consultant who the prepared project report for widening these stretches of State highways, and a private firm to which widening work has been assigned. Further hearing was adjourned to September 7.

During hearing of a public interest litigation petition on the sale of non-ISI certified packaged drinking water, the Bench appointed advocate Aditya Sondhi amicus curiae to assist the court.The Bench asked Commissioner for Food Safety and Standards Anjum Parvez, who was present in court, to be present during next hearing on August 2. It asked him to file an affidavit on action proposed to be taken on the issue of packaging and testing of drinking water in the State.