SC slams Centre on land acquistion row, cites Maoist cult

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 23:12

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has slammed the
Centre for not compensating hundreds of landowners whose land
were acquired for a proposed mining project of the public
Sector Mahanadi Coal Fields in Orissa even 20 years after the
acquisition.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and B S Chauhan in a
judgement regretted that such "blinkered" vision would
seriously erode public confidence in government and pointed to
growing Maoist violence in the country to buttress the
argument.
"But before going into the facts of the case, two other
things need to be stated. This case comes from Orissa which is
one of the seven states where a particularly violent group of
political extremists has been able to gain sufficient strength
to pose a threat to Constitutional governance of the state.

"This group openly defies the democratic system of the
country and is committed to overthrowing the Constitution by
brutal and murderous means. According to newspaper reports,
in the district of Sundergarh, where the acquired lands are
situated, the extremist group looted 550 kilograms of
explosives in April 2003 and in August 2009 blew up a railway
station," the apex court said.

The apex court made the remarks in a judgement directing
the Centre to decide the compensation to be paid to the
lanowners of Gopalpur village in Sundergarh district whose
land was acquired way back in 1987 but till date no
compensation has been paid.

"A blinkered vision of development, complete apathy
towards those who are highly adversely affected by the
development process and a cynical unconcern for the
enforcement of the laws lead to a situation where the rights
and benefits promised and guaranteed under the Constitution
hardly ever reach the most marginalized", the apex court said.
"On many occasions, laws are implemented only partially.
The scheme of land acquisition often comes with assurances of
schools, hospitals, roads, and employment. The initial
promises, however, mostly remain illusory. The aims of income
restoration and house resettlement prove to be very difficult.
Noncompliance with even the basic regulations causes serious
health problems for the local population and contamination of
soil and water," it said.

Though the Centre had acquired the land the land for
the Coal company, the latter was not willing to take over the
same on the ground that it did not require the same, a
decision which it conveyed 20 years after the lands were
acquired.

Aggrieved, the land owners approached the Orissa High
Court which directed the authorities to pay adequate
compensation to the land owners, following which the public
sector company approached the apex court.

Rejecting the company`s appeal, the apex court said such
a stance by the authorites was only adding insult to the
injury.

"If this is not adding insult to injury, we do not know
what else is! the Bench said while directing the authorities
to work out a compensation package as suggested by Solicitor
General Gopal Subramaniam.

The apex court also appointed Justice A.K. Parichha,
a former Judge of the High Court of Orissa, as Chairman of the
Commission which would decide the quantum of comensation and
other issues connected with acquisition of the land.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 23:12

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