GUWAHATI, April 20 � The Assam Government is the appropriate authority to take up the issue of the apprehensions expressed by the downstream people or for that matter any organization, on the possible devastating impacts of the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP), with the other authorities. This has been made adequately clear by the Gauhati High Court in a judgement.
However, the judgement remained unnoticed for a period of over one year and it came to light only recently. The said judgement of the Gauhati High Court was issued in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) (No-83 of 2009) filed by the voluntary organization Appropriate Technology Mission, Assam (ATMA). The case was closed at the admission stage.
The High Court, in its judgement, observed that Section 11 of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 does not bar the right of the petitioner to ventilate the grievance before an appropriate Government, that is, �Government of Assam in the context of the present case,� and �convince the Government of Assam that the petitioner has genuine grievance, which is required to be attended.�
The Government of Assam, if so convinced that the grievance of the petitioner is required to be attended; there is nothing which prohibits the State of Assam from seeking a reference under the provisions of the law, said the High Court in its judgement.
�In the circumstances, this writ petition is, therefore, closed, at the admission stage,� said the Court in its judgement.
It observed in the said judgement��The river Brahmaputra is an inter-State river in the context of the States of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of any inter-state river or river valley are not amenable to the jurisdiction of any Court in view of Article 262 of the Constitution of India read with Inter State Water Disputes Act, 1956.�
It further maintained that the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 is an enactment made, obviously, in exercise of the authority of the Article 262 of the Constitution of India. Section 11 of the said Act categorically bars the jurisdiction of all the Courts in this country including the Supreme Court in respect of any river dispute, said the Gauhati High Court in its above judgement.
The Assam Government was represented in the court in this case by Advocate General of Assam AK Phookan, while the Arunachal Pradesh Government was represented by Advocate General of Arunachal Pradesh N Dutta and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), which is implementing the LSHEP, was represented by Senior Advocate K P Pathak. The petitioner was represented in the court in this case by Advocate DK Sarma.