January 24, 2009 12:06:39 am
Claim the state government has also allowed the fishing activity to continue in reservoirs despite Supreme Court ban
With the Gujarat Government delaying the process of releasing the fishing rights’ tender despite a Supreme Court order in this regard,the bidders on Friday moved the High Court and filed the contempt of court case against the state fisheries department.
The fishing contracts for 54 reservoirs were allotted to different individuals and groups in July 2008,for the first time doing away with the government leasing policy for reservoirs of inland fisheries-2004,which insists on tenders,claiming that the tender procedure hurts the sentiments of people associated with religious groups. The contracts were instead fixed on the basis of low prices,incurring huge losses to the government.
The release of controversial fishing rights tenders,which the state government was supposed to do on January 19,has been postponed at the last minute for indefinite times. The bidders,who had demanded a tender process,have won the cases both in the HC and the SC. Now,they moved the HC again with government showing little interest in releasing the tenders.
The bidders in the contempt of court plea have said that government has not only delayed the release of the tenders but has also allowed the fishing activity to continue at these reservoirs despite a ban by the Supreme Court.
The contempt of court has been alleged at two levels. Firstly,the government has not followed the SC order to cancel all the contracts given without the tender process and release new tenders. Secondly,despite a total ban on all fishing activities,it is very much underway,” said Mukul Sinha,the lawyer of the affected bidders.
“The state government on one side has postponed the release of tenders without giving reasons. On the other hand,we have evidence to prove that fishing activity is continuing at these sites. This is clearly a case of the contempt of the Supreme Court by the state government,” said M Issac,one of the bidders who have filed the case.
Giving tender process a miss,the fishing rights were allotted at very low rates. For instance,the rights for the Bhadar dam in the last tender process were given at Rs 20 lakh. While in July 2008,the rights for the same dam were given at Rs 3 lakh.
The HC had called the government’s action of not following the tender process an act done on extraneous ground. The SC has upheld the HC order.
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