The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday reserved its order on a set of petitions filed against Gautam Adani- promoted Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) and the Central government over the alleged blockage and diversion of 14 rainfed rivers in Kutch district by APSEZ.
The petitioners have alleged that many rainfed rivers originating from different talukas of Kutch district flow through many villages before entering the Gulf of Kutch through Mundra taluka. The petitions allege that the APSEZ has “ caused destruction, bunding, blocking and diversion of more than 14 of these rivers and the calamitous consequences being faced by the people of Kutch, including flooding and loss of livelihood due to loss of agricultural income”.
The petitioners are farmers and live-stock rearers residing in various villages of Kutch district who have filed several similar petitions over the last couple of years. In the petitions, it has been alleged that the APSEZ “is using ‘bricks and concrete’ to set up huge walls in the natural-course (path) of the rivers. Portions of these boundary-walls are temporarily kept open for the rivers to flow; and ‘barbed wire fences’ are used in these ‘temporarily open patches’ between the walls.”
The petitions further claim, “The APSEZ then digs and excavates soil from riverbeds, which are outside their boundary. Such digging leads to the increase in the depth of the beds of the rivers. Consequently, the waters of these seasonal rivers will be caught in the depths of these dug-up riverbeds; and the force of the flow will either decrease or completely stop till the time they reach the boundary walls of the respondent (APSEZ).”
They have prayed for quashing the environmental clearance given to the APSEZ for “bunding and obstruction of flow of rivers” and for ordering to restore the land in question to its original form by removing the alleged encroachment and obstructions that have allegedly blocked the rivers. It has also been prayed to quash the provisions of several sections of the National Green Tribunal Act and establishing a Green Tribunal in Gujarat. Following the hearing, the division bench of acting chief justice V M Sahai and justice R P Dholaria reserved the order.
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