Shimla, September 10, 2021
The High Court of H.P. has issued notices to the Center and State Governments and the National Highway Authority of India, in a matter seeking directions to the concerned authorities to take necessary measures as suggested by various experts, for prevention of oft occurring landslides along National Highways in H.P., which cause large scale loss of life and property every time.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed these orders on a petition filed by Ms.Namita Maniktala, which was taken up by the Court as Public Interest Litigation. The petitioner has alleged that many areas of Himachal having fragile geologies are prone to the landslides and almost every year, the state witnesses massive landslides, which causes loss of lives and property. The residents of the State as well as the tourists visiting H.P., have a fundamental right to life and it is duty of the Sate to take all those precautionary measures, which can prevent the landslides and stop any further loss to life and property of the citizens.
She has alleged that the experts have recommended some remedial measures to prevent landslides in various reports viz. Landslide hazard Risk Management Report, 2015", report of study conducted by Dr.A.K.Mahajan, Professor(Environmental Sciences), report of Geological Survey of India, with respect to the road Cave in at Kali Dhank area in Paonta Sahib-Shillai road and report of the Abhay Shukla Committee constituted by this Hon'ble Court to study the impact of establishment of Hydroelectric Projects of mountain ecosystems. But the State and NHAI authorities are not taking into account these expert suggestions, while undertaking massive developmental projects in H.P., especially Highways involving large scale excavation of hills.
The petitioner has prayed to direct the State to inform the Court about the implementation of the measures suggested by the experts in the aforesaid reports and to engage the services of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, which is the leading expert Institution in the field, to conduct study on all such landslide vulnerable zones and suggest the measures to be taken for preventing such landslides. She has also prayed that the State may be directed to install Landslides Predicting Device as have been developed by IIT, Mandi and other such similar devices in all the landslide prone areas. She has prayed that the National Highway Authority of India and H.P. Public Works Department, may be directed to implement all the measures so suggested by the experts for prevention of landslides along all National and State Highways.
The Court posted the matter after four weeks and directed the respondents to file reply by next date.