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Plea to quash nod for hydrocarbon exploration at Neduvasal dismissed
In a big set back to the campaign against the Hydrocarbon Excavation Project at Neduvsal Village in Pudukottai District, the Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea which sought to quash the approval granted for exploration in favour of Gem Laboratories Private Ltd by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
A division bench comprising Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad on noting that the environment issue pertaining to the project rests with the National Green Tribunal, said the plea castigating the firm, which has been granted tender is devoid of substance and merit.
Also, the bench on noting that the submission made by Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan stated that the State was failing to cooperate with the Centre in execution of the project, said it is for the State and Centre to resolve the issue among themselves and that the Court cannot intervene. The petitioner Gandhiya Makkal Iyakkam represented by its counsel Pa Anjana submitted that the Government of India (GOI) through CCEA did not initiate any talks with farmers or divulged details about the project before taking a decision. Now with hydrocarbon extraction, the GoI has only paved way for the annihilating the livelihood of more than 5,000 families, dependent on either agriculture or cattle farming.
Moreover, the modality adopted by the Government is in clear violation of catena of decisions of the Supreme Court, wherein it has been clearly held that in allocation of natural resources should be only through public tender and not through E-bid.
The plea further claimed that the project had been awarded as a sort of privileged preferential treatment to a third term sitting Member of Parliament G M Siddeshwara from Karnataka. He has direct connection with Gem Laboratories through his wife Gayatri who holds 19.66 per cent stake as one of the directors and his brothers. Also, Siddeshwara’s brother G M Lingaraju who is related to the project was arrested by the CBI for his illegal excavation of 12,500 million metric tonnes of iron ore.
This raises a huge doubt that CCEA has acted in a direct conflict with the public law and hence the decision taken itself is per se void and illegal which needs to be probed by the Joint Parliament committee for having allocated such project in favour of a sitting MP, the plea said.