Supreme Court issued notices to Uttarakhand and Union of India in a petition filed by the victims of the 2012 and 2013 calamities
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 415 OF 2014 Keshar Singh Panwar and others Versus State of Uttarakhand and others In a petition filed by the victims of the 2012 and 2013 calamities that hit the State of Uttarakhand, Hon'ble Supreme Court issued notices to the State of Uttarakhand and Union of India today. The Petitioner have sought the intervention of the Hon'ble Supreme Court primarily on the issue that there is no preparedness of the State of Uttarakhand and Union of India on account of reconstruction of flood affected areas of the year 2013 before the onset of the monsoon this year. The Petitioners sought the direction of the Court in order to prepare in advance for the natural calamity that may occur in the state of Uttrakhand as soon as the rains start to pour in and also to implement the schemes and programmes in view of the natural calamities that hit the state of Uttrakhand in the years 2012 and 2013 that cause widespread loss of lives and property. This petition has been filed in the Supreme Court giving specific instances of potential crisis areas in the Yamuna Valley, the Gangotri valley, the Alaknanda Valley and the Mandakini Valley of the state of Uttarakhand, together with photographs to urge the Hon ble Court to direct the Indian Army, Border Road Organisation (BRO) and the state authorities to immediately, on a war footing, carry out the public works in the first instance in accordance with the crisis public works listed in the prayer clauses and at the same time, to carry out the emergency public works required to be done as mentioned in the various reports of the state authorities as elaborated hereinafter. The situation is such, that should the rains commence on time in the last week of June 2014 with the state of preparedness almost nil, a huge tragedy may well unfold taking many lives and destroying property once again as happened last year. To add to the potential crisis, the state authorities have taken the most reckless decisions to start the Char-Dham yatra in all the four valleys and an estimated 4 lakhs persons will be present at any point of time in the four valleys. The total number of persons visiting, therefore, will be much higher. Should a tragedy occur in the background of total lack of preparedness the human toll would be considerable. Petitioners have annexed photographs of the valley indicating the devastations there and also indicated that the reconstruction work is yet to start. Therefore, the landslide locations have remained untreated, debris from the river beds have not yet been removed and protective walls along the river and on the land slide sites have not yet been constructed. There are places where the loose masses are still lying untreated and the river beds have risen by 10 to 15 feet by the deposit of debris during the last year's flash floods. Petitioners have also indicated through the letters of the District Collector, Uttrakashi that there has been demand for release of funds to carry out reconstruction work. However there is no such release of the grant. The District Collector in its September 2013 and January 2014 letters have indicated that if the reconstruction works are not started immediately, there will be no preparedness for any such calamity if heavy rains pour in the coming monsoon. However there is no response from the State Government. It was only on 14th March 2014 that the Government of Uttarakhand has released a sum of meagre Rs. 5.67 Crore for starting and completing 52 projects of reconstruction out of a budgeted allocation of Rs. 566.9 Crore. The released amount is just 1% of the actual requirement for the reconstruction activities. The bench comprising of Hon ble Mr Justice B S Chauhan and Hon ble Mr Justice M Y Eqbal, while hearing the petition issued notices to the State of Uttarakhand and Union of India and posted the matter for hearing on 19.05.2014 during vacations before the vacation bench. Mr Colin Gonsalves, Sr Advocate assisted by Mr Divya Jyoti Jaipuriar, Adv argued the matter before the Hon ble Supreme Court.