Jharkhand High Court Directs PCCF To File Affidavit On Charges Of NTPC Obtaining NOC By Holding Fake Gram Sabha

Hearing took place before the bench of Justice Sujit Narayan and Justice Arun Rai

By Ajay Nirala – Ranchi

The Jharkhand High Court, in the case of charges against Maharatna PSU, NTPC, holding a fake Gram Sabha and obtaining fake signatures of the Village Forest Management and Conservation Committee to obtain forest clearance for the Pankri Barwadih Coal Project, directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to file an Affidavit. Hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Mantu Soni, Advocate Naveen Kumar Singh argued the case before the court of Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad and Justice Arun Rai.

Advocate Naveen Singh lodged an objection to the reply given by the Forest Department, in which it was mentioned that there was no justification for the Village Forest Management and Conservation Committee. The court said that when the DFO investigated the said case, then how come the officers of that range are denying this. Therefore, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, should himself file an affidavit in the court in this regard. Apart from this, the court has directed the Hazaribagh Deputy Commissioner to provide the details of funds deposited and spent so far in the (District Mineral Foundation Trust) DMFT fund along with relevant documents.

The matter relates to transfer of land of Pakri Barwadih Coal Project, in which the handwriting of all the members of the Village Forest Committee is the same. Consent has been taken from the Village Forest Management and Conservation Committee for mining on 1,128 acres of land. Consent has also been taken from the conservation committee. The consent form prepared by the committee is signed by a maximum of five to six members. The signatures of all the members are similar to each other. There is no mention in any of the consent letters as to which village’s Forest Management and Conservation Committee meeting this is, whereas as per the rules, it is necessary to mention in the consent letter, which village the committee belongs to. It is written in the consent letter that Pakri Barwadih Coal Project wants to mine coal in the area and to this, the villagers have given full consent.

The PIL says that the handwriting of all the members of the Forest Conservation Management Committee formed under the Western Forest Division of Hazaribagh district is almost the same. During investigation, fake signatures of the villagers were confirmed but even after this, the Forest Department did not taken any action.

This information is available from the consent issued by the committee in the case of coal mining from Pakri Barwadih Coal Project. The government has transferred a total of 12,011 acres of land for Pakri Barwadih Coal Project. Out of this, 1,128 acres of land is recorded as forest cover.

The counsel for NTPC, Mr. Prashant Pallav submitted that the affidavit could not be filed, however, he will file counter affidavit along with the response to the rejoinder filed on the behalf of the petitioner.

The next hearing of the case has been listed on 24/04/2024.

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