Penalty can’t compensate losses: HC

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Sept 11: Observing that mere deposit of penalty can nowhere compensate the damage caused by constructing power transmission line across the Wildlife Sanctuary in South Kashmir, the High Court has directed the Wildlife department to place the details of damage caused due to violations by user agency.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice D S Thakur on hearing PIL for the conservation and preservation of Hirpora Sanctuary situated in district Shopian from illegal and unlawful blasting and heavy machinery being carried out by Sterlite Power Grid Ltd Chenni Himmat, Chief Operating Officer Uttar Pradesh and Project Director Vinay Constructions Channi Himmat Jammu for laying 400 KV transmission line from Jalandhar-Samba-Amargarh to Sopore under NRSSS project, directed the Wildlife department to place details of damage to the sanctuary before the court.
Observing that merely deposit of a penalty amount can nowhere effect reparation for the ensuing damage to the environment which would have occurred on account of the violation as such. “Let the Chief Wildlife. Warden as well as the petitioner place before this Court the damage which would have ensured to all concerns of the environment on account of the violation by respondent no.16”, DB directed.
The status report filed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, submits that the User Agency has agreed that violation to the condition of the Government order has taken place and that the penalty amount has been deposited with the J&K Wildlife Protection Department.
Court directed both the petitioner as well as the Chief Wildlife Warden, to suggest as to what measures are necessary to ensure restoration of the Wildlife Sanctuary and to remove the ill effects of the omissions and commissions of User Agency.
“The report on these aspects be filed within two weeks from today and the Chief Wildlife Warden shall also inform this court as to whether the penalty amount would be sufficient to meet the costs of the restoration measures which are required to be undertaken”, the Court further directed.
The PIL has been filed before the court submitting therein that the authorities have devastated the sanctuary and the species in it by carrying transmission line and blasting its peripheries by heavy machinery.
The State Government in October 2016 has granted permission for laying the power transmission line through Wildlife Sanctuary with terms and conditions laid down in the said order.
During the construction of transmission line and while laying 42 towers out of 44 towers certain violations have been found for which Rs 247.50 lakh costs were imposed which have been deposited before proper forum.
The company was supposed to lay the power line and erect towers in the wildlife sanctuary on the condition that the work should be done manually so as to avoid damaging flora and fauna of the area.