Any project that affects forests and the environment and is in violation of rules or lacks required permissions cannot be permitted to continue, the Bombay high court said on Friday.
The observation by a division bench of justices DD Sinha and VK Tahilramani came in response to a public interest litigation filed by four activists, including Mayank Gandhi, a coordinator for India Against Corruption, pointing out irregularities in the awarding of contract and construction of the Kondhane dam project in Raigad district.
Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Mihir Desai said hundreds of acres of forests would be affected by this project, which did not have permission from the environment ministry and other authorities. Desai further pointed out that the tender for the project was awarded within a month and in that period the project costs escalated from Rs 50 crore to Rs 360 crore.
Desai, however, revealed that two of the petitioners had land in the area but their research and queries under RTI led them to alleged irregularities in the project. The court wanted to know at what stage the construction was. Desai informed that according to Friday’s media report, the governor had ordered a probe into the project.
The petitioners further pointed out that work was going on in spite of a stop work notice from the Archeological Survey of India due to the presence of some caves in the project area.