SC slams Centre on land acquistion row, cites Maoist cult
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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.


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

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