Supreme Court declines urgent hearing on Joshimath subsidence
10 January, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
"Everything which is important need not come to the apex court. There are democratically elected institutions working on it," the court said.
Everything essential in the country cannot come before the Supreme Court, the top court observed on Tuesday, declining an urgent hearing on the Joshimath sinking case.
As the hearing was scheduled on January 16, a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha said that there are democratically elected institutions to investigate the matter.
“Everything which is important need not come to the apex court. There are democratically elected institutions working on it,” the top court said.
The court said this after the lawyer appearing for the petitioner mentioned the matter for an urgent hearing.
Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court asked an advocate to mention on Tuesday a plea seeking immediate intervention by the top court to assist the reparation and providing of urgent relief to people of Joshimath in Uttarakhand, who are living in fear in the wake of a landslide and subsidence.
Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, a religious leader, filed the petition, requesting that the current incidents of landslides, subsidence, land sinking, land burst, and cracks in the land and properties be declared a national disaster and that the National Disaster Management Authority assist the residents of Joshimath at this time.
After fractures formed in their homes as a result of the sinking, several families were evacuated from Joshimath.
The petition demanded urgent financial aid and compensation for Uttarakhand residents who had lost their homes and land due to subsidence.
“In the name of and/or for the cause of development the respondents have no right to push the people in the mouth of death and the religious sacred town in extinction and thereby infringe the fundamental right of the people of the Joshimath including the petitioner as well as inmates of his Monastery guaranteed under article 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India,” it stated.
The entire mess of environmental, ecological and geological disturbances occurred due to large-scale manly intervention in the form of Industrialisation, urbanisation and destruction of natural resources by the Union and State government in the State of Uttarakhand, the petition stated further.
It added, “No development is needed at the cost of human life and their ecosystem and if anything such is happening it is the duty of the State and Union government to stop the same immediately at war level.”
The petition was filed to “secure the life and personal liberty of the people of Joshimath town in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, wherein the life of the people is lurching large due to imminent and sudden cases of land subsidence, land sliding, the sudden eruption of water, cracking of houses and subsidence and cracking of agriculture plots resulted on account of man-made activities which given rise to recurrent natural calamities which were earlier very rare”.
“Issue direction to the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to provide insurance coverage to the residents of Joshimath and to duly compensate the affected residents for the disaster caused by land sliding, land sinking, land burst, subsidence resulting into the cracking of houses and lands,” it added.
It also sought direction from the SC to the NTPC and Border Road Organisation (BRO) to rehabilitate the affected citizens at safer and more convenient places.
“Direct Centre, National Disaster Management Authority, Uttarakhand to take effective and proactive steps to protect the spiritual and religious and cultural places of Hindus including Sikhs at Joshimath; especially the Jyotirmath and adjoining sacred shrines/temples wherein deities are being worshipped since time immemorial,” the plea read.
“Direct the respondents to immediately stop construction and building work of the Tapovan Vishnugad Hydro Electric, Project tunnel and not to begin again till the high-level committee of geologists, hydrologists and engineers constituted by this court,” it added.