SC junks plea for restoration of clogged rivers

SC junks plea for restoration of clogged rivers

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to entertain a plea seeking restoration of the rivers flowing through reserve forests in Uttar Pradesh with their beds overloaded with sand, bajri (gravel), morang and boulder as it questioned the bonafides of the petitioner.

Petitioner Gopal Chandra Sinha is the Assistant Conservator of Forest in the State Forest Department. He had joined the Uttar Pradesh Forest Corp (UPFC) as Divisional Manager. An FIR was lodged against Sinha and another official on May 5 and at present he is under suspension.

Sinha had sought directions for immediate start of the work for the restoration of rivers clogged with forest produce and the sub-minerals — sand, bajri, morang and boulder.

The PIL also urged the court to appoint an advocate commissioner to monitor the work.

Observing that there was merit in the issue raised in the PIL, a vacation bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Indu Malhotra said but “we have serious doubts about the petitioner” who is a subordinate officer in the UPFC and has issues with his senior.

Telling the senior counsel Anoop Chaudhari that the issue could be moved by some other person or NGO, the court said there was a criminal complaint against the petitioner by the state government.

“We have serious doubts… you have mentioned about the FIR (in the PIL). We do feel there is merit in the issue. You have reasons to settle scores with the seniors,” said the bench declining the plea.

The court was unmoved as senior counsel Chaudhari told the bench to ignore the petitioner and take suo motu cognizance of the issue raised the PIL

Technical bids were finalized on May 3, 2018 and the very next day the Managing Director of the UPFC cancelled them and the FIR was lodged against Sinha and another official on May 5.

Sinha has been accused of cheating (Section 420 of the IPC), conspiracy (Section 120B IPC), criminal breach of trust (Section 408 IPC), mischief involving wrongful loss or damage to the public (Section 425 IPC), and under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

The restoration of riverbeds overloaded with sand, bajri, morang and boulder in the 12 forest divisions of Uttar Pradesh was required for the restoration, reclamation and conservation of forests and forest land.

The restoration of rivers passing through forests involved the extraction of the sub-minerals deposited on the riverbeds of the rivers, primarily river Ganga, which the UPFC was to undertake.

The PIL was dismissed as withdrawn.