The Punjab and Haryana High Court Thursday cleared the decks for setting up a nuclear plant in Haryanas Fatehabad district and dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by farmers against it.
Several farmers whose lands are being acquired had opposed the nuclear plant on several grounds demanding the acquisition proceedings be set aside.
As the case came up for hearing the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) filed a detailed written reply. Its counsel,Advocate Ashish Chopra submitted that the NPCIL has a experience of over 40 decades in the field and that the proceedings initiated for setting up the nuclear plant is in accordance with law. Chopra also contended that nearly 900 farmers and land owners have already accepted compensation from the state (Haryana) and only six farmers are challenging the setting up of plant. Chopra added that national interest must outweigh private interest.
On the other hand,stating that the project would be great prejudice to the petitioners and detrimental to the entire area,the farmers had earlier submitted that the government had very cleverly invoked emergency clause for acquisition of land with the sole motive to bypass objections land owners.
Later,the government issued a notification omitting the emergency clause. This has been termed illegal by the farmers. The affidavit was filed by the farmers,on the last date of hearing,in response to the stand taken by the Haryana government opposing a petition by over 60 farmers – claiming to be in possession of over 150 acres of land – opposing land acquisition for the nuclear plant.
Haryana is trying to create a hype of importance for the project and has tried to submit that the objections of the landowners do not require any formal adjudication. Thus,also the acquisition is vitiated as illegal and against the settled law, farmers had alleged,adding that the site selection committee had ignored the topography and geography of the area.
Denying the accusations and terming them unfounded,the Haryana government opposed the petition. Appearing on behalf of the state,Hawa Singh Hooda,Advocate General,said that the plant is of national interest and cannot be allowed to be scuttled. He clarified that adequate compensation has been paid to all the land owners and possession has already been taken over.