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Supreme Court nod on river interlinking

Tuesday February 28, 2012 08:20:50 AM, IANS

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday gave the green signal for implementing the ambitious project to interlink India's rivers, saying it was in national interest. The court noted that the long delay in the execution of the project has already added to cost over-runs.

A bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice A.K.Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the central government to constitute a "Special Committee for Inter-linking of Rivers" to be headed by the water resources minister to work out the roadmap for the project.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Swatanter Kumar said, "This is a matter of national benefit and progress. We see no reason why any state should lag behind in contributing its bit to bring the Inter-linking River Program to a success, thus saving the people living in drought-prone zones from hunger and people living in flood-prone areas from the destruction caused by floods."

The special committee will have the water resources secretary, the environment and forests secretary, the Central Water Commission chairman and the National Water Development Authority member secretary as its members.

Besides this there will be four experts to be nominated, one each from the ministries of water resources, finance, environment and forests and the Planning Commission. The minister for water and/or irrigation from each of the concurring states whill also be members.

The committee will also have two social activists on it besides senior counsel Ranjit Kumar who was amicus curiae in the matter before the court.

The committee constituted under this order shall be responsible for carrying out the inter-linking program. Its decisions shall take precedence over all administrative bodies created under the orders of this court or otherwise, the court said.

The panel will submit a bi-annual report to the central cabinet placing before it the status-cum-progress report as well as all the decisions required to be taken, the apex court said.

The cabinet shall take all final and appropriate decisions, in the interest of the countries as expeditiously as possible and preferably within thirty days from the date the matters are first placed before it for consideration, the court said.

In a direction of far-reaching consequence, the court granted "liberty to the learned Amicus Curiae to file contempt petition in this court, in the event of default or non-compliance of the directions contained in this order".

"Huge amounts of public money have been spent, at the planning stage itself and it will be travesty of good governance and the epitome of harm to public interest, if these projects are not carried forward with a sense of sincerity and a desire for its completion," the court said.

Referring to the inter-state river water dispute resolution mechanism, the judgment said: "It is this kind of coordination which is required to be generated at all levels to implement the inter-linking of rivers program, as proposed."








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