By: Mahesh Chander Sharma
Mandi (Apr 6): Despite the fact that the Green Bench of Himachal Pradesh High Court has quashed environment clearances and land acquisition notifications of Harish Cement Plant, which was coming up near Sundernagar, the government officials still appear to be favouring the cement company and has recently given permission to the company to purchase land directly from farmers.
As per a latter dated March 11, 2011, addressed to DC Mandi from the office of secretary, revenue, the government has extended permission to purchase of land from farmers under Section 118 of Land Reforms and Tenancy Act in favour of
Harish Cement Company. Interestingly, this permission stood lapsed and subsequently on December 13, 2010, the Green Bench of HP high court quashed the environmental clearances and land acquisition notification for the cement project. As per sources, the cement company later applied for extension for permission to purchase land from farmers. Later, DC Mandi recommended two cases on 8-2-2011 and 25-2-2011 to the government, which have been allowed by the office of revenue secretary on 11-3-2011 and permission to purchase the land has been extended for the next six months.
The Joint Action Committee of various farmers and social organisations have accused the government that it was adopting duel standards, as it has been talking much about environment and begging awards in the name of environment but in had been taking decisions which were against the environment. According to Joginder Singh, president of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (RSS wing of farmers), the Joint Action Committee had given a memorandum to the Chief Minister (during his recent visit to Sundernagar) to scrap the MOU of the cement plant as its various clearances.
The local revenue officials were tight lipped in the matter but confirmed that permission to purchase land was received. They further confirmed that political wish was behind this permission. According to DC Mandi, there was no illegality in according
permission to purchase land from farmers as the high court never put a bar on purchasing land from farmers.
On the other hand Ashok Sharma and Anand Sharma, both advocates in the high court, who have fought this case, said the government officials were wrong and they would initiate appropriate legal action against these officials. They further reasoned that when the very purpose of the project was quashed by the high court how the government officials could dare to act contrary to the high court orders.