The Supreme Court has sought reply from Tata Power, the Maharashtra government and others on a petition against the Bombay High Court order that cleared the firm’s upcoming 1,600 MW power project in Raigad.
A bench headed by Justice RM Lodha issued notice to the state government, the Tata firm and others after senior counsel Colin Gonsalves alleged irregularities in the acquisition of land and non-compliance with environmental laws.
The HC in April last year had dismissed a PIL filed by five farmers opposing the 1,200-acre land acquisition by the state for Tata Power’s R8,000-crore coastal power plant as the project was for public purpose of augmenting the power supply to Mumbai.
Tata Power in April 2005 had signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government for setting up the power project allegedly in an eco-sensitive area.
Gonsalves argued the land where the power plant is to come up was a rich agricultural land and it should have been converted into ‘industrial use’ category before acquisition as the Maharashtra Industrial Development Act, 1961, does not apply for acquisition of farm land for companies.
The agriculturists, claiming to represent 70% of the affected people, said that 906 landholders, 500 landless labourers and their families in the villages were affected by the acquisition.
He argued that people who have been compensated by the company were not the genuine owners and even for land acquired through private negotiations only part or nominal payments have been made by the Tata firm.
Seeking scrutiny of the sale of land to companies by the apex court, the the petition stated that Tata Power had appointed agents, probably on commission, to persuade ‘khatedars’ to sell their land.
The high court had allowed the Tata firm to go ahead with the project with certain riders like no construction in the area under the mangroves on the coastline of the two villages.
The Tata firm had argued that 67% of the people affected have not made any complaints and the rehabilitation package offered by the company was more than what is required under the National Resettlement Policy or followed by way of practice.