Tower cranes operate while laborers work at residential buildings under construction at the Jaypee Wish Town Project, developed by Jaypee Infratech Ltd. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Lifts Interim Stay On Construction In Uttarakhand And Maharashtra

Lifting the interim stay on further construction in Uttarakhand and Maharashtra, the Supreme Court today observed that the states have rushed to the court as the builders may have “gone after them”.

At the hearing today, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chandigarh also moved the apex court on the issue, which led the bench to observe: “All the builders must have gone after you after our order (staying further construction).” It asked the counsel for Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chandigarh to file their applications in this regard.

The apex court had on Aug. 31 castigated some states and union territories for their “pathetic” attitude in not framing a solid waste management policy according to the 2016 rules on the issue and had ordered a stay on the construction activities.

A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta charged Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and the union territory of Chandigarh a fine of a cost of Rs 3 lakh each. It had also imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on Andhra Pradesh for not filing an affidavit according to the court’s July 10 direction and observed that even the centre was not aware whether the state had framed the policy.

At the outset, the counsel for Uttarakhand told the bench that they have framed the policy according to the 2016 rule which will now go before the cabinet for approval. “We are facing a calamity-like situation,” the counsel said, while referring to the landslides and formation of an artificial lake in Tehri Garhwal area in the state. He said that due to the formation of an artificial lake owing to landslides, around 13 villages were in danger.

The counsel also urged the bench that cost of Rs 3 lakh imposed on them should go for the relief and rescue operations going on in the state. The court allowed the request of the Uttarakhand government.

The counsel, however, told the bench that the cost were imposed on states for not framing the policy under the rule, but the centre has not yet framed a national policy in this regard.

Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, appearing for the centre, countered the claim and referred to the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ launched earlier by the government.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, appearing for Maharashtra, told the bench that the state had framed the policy in 2017 itself but due to some “communication gap”, it was not conveyed to the court.

The bench questioned Maharashtra about utilisation of the cess collected under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 and asked whether the money was being used on workers’ welfare.

“You have collected crores of rupees under this and you are not giving it to these persons (construction workers),” the bench said and directed Maharashtra to give details about it on Sept. 11 with regard to construction workers in Mumbai.

When Odisha’s counsel said there was some “confusion” on their part during Aug. 31 hearing due to which they could not apprise the apex court about framing of the policy, the bench said “everybody is confused when it comes to implementation of the law.”

The issue of waste management had cropped up when the court was dealing with a tragic incident in 2015 in which it had taken cognisance of the death of a seven-year-old boy due to dengue in Delhi. The victim was allegedly denied treatment by five private hospitals in Delhi and his distraught parents had subsequently committed suicide.

The apex court had earlier taken strong note of non-implementation of solid waste management rules in the country and observed that “India will one day go down under the garbage.”

Also read: Supreme Court Bans Construction In Three States