Judgement of the Supreme Court of India regarding allotment of local ponds to private industrialists, village Saini, tehsil Dadri, district Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, 25/11/2019

Judgement of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Jitendra Singh Vs Ministry of Environment & Others dated 25/11/2019 regarding allotment of local ponds to private industrialists. The case was dismissed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the basis of an affidavit filed by Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority on the ground that it was developing bigger alternative water bodies.

Jitendra Singh (appellant) a resident of village Saini, tehsil Dadri, District Gautam Budh Nagar had filed a case in NGT against M/s Sharp Enterprises alleging use of excavataors and other heavy machinery and the attempt to forcibly takeover possession of a ‘common pond’, which had been in use by local villagers for a century.

Large tracts of the appellant's village had been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 ostensibly for industrial development by GNIDA. Subsequently, these acquired lands (including some local ponds) had been leased to private industrialists, including Sharp in 2012.

The SC setting aside the order of NGT declared the allotment of all water bodies (both ponds and canals) in village Saini, tehsil Dadari, District Gautam Budh Nagar to be illegal and the authorities directed to restore, maintain and protect the water bodies.

Further, all obstructions from the catchment area through which natural water accumulates in the village ponds have to be removed within a period of three months. The SC held that "reduction of the complex and cascading effects of extinguishing natural waterbodies into mere numbers and their attempt to justify the same through replacement by geographically larger artificial waterbodies, fails to capture the spirit of the Constitutional scheme and is, therefore, impermissible."