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Locals raise concerns over potential impact of Kamakhya Corridor on heritage, water sources

Reported by

Emilo Yanthan

Legal Review by

Anmol Gupta

Edited by

Anupa Sagar Kujur

Updated by

Updated by

Published on

June 17, 2024

June 24, 2024

Edited on

June 17, 2024

Sector

Industry

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Tourism

Starting Year

2024

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

1

ha

Households Affected by Conflict

People Affected by Conflict

State

Assam

Sector

Industry

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

1

ha

Starting Year

2024

Location of Conflict

Guwahati

Kamrup

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Tourism

Land Conflict Summary

On 3 April 2024, the Gauhati High Court ordered the Assam government to reply to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the construction of the Maa Kamakhya Temple Access Corridor.

In February 2024, the Prime Minister launched the ambitious Rs 498 crore Kamakhya corridor project. Under the project, the cumulative open space around the temple will increase from 3000 sq ft at present to approximately 100,000 sq ft, spread over three levels. The average width of the access corridor would increase from its current width of 8-10 feet to approximately 27-30 feet, an official told the Hindustan Times. Concurrently, the access corridor will be widened from its current 8-10 feet width to 27-30 feet.

The petitioners appealed to the court to stop the construction of the 'Maa Kamakhya Temple Access Corridor' in Nilachal Hill until necessary approvals and clearances are acquired from the Department of Archaeology under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (as amended in 2010) to safeguard and preserve historically significant monuments, which are more than 2,000 years old.

The Gauhati High Court issued notices to the central and state governments, as well as other involved parties, including the construction company L&T, asking them to respond to the petition.

The petitioners also sought details on a white paper outlining the plans to preserve the monuments of the temple, such as the natural cave, regarded as the cosmic womb and Dasa Mahavidyas, symbolised by natural water springs. They also raised concerns that this could directly impact the sacred water stream in the Kamakhya temple's sanctuary.

Petitioner Navajyoti Sarma informed the court that the project is a five-phase project which involves significant demolition, excavation, and reconstruction within the temple grounds. He also highlighted that no geological or irrigation surveys were conducted before the project's commencement to assess potential impacts on water sources.

On 22 April 2024, advocate D Nath and advocate general Devajit Lon Saikia on behalf of the state government submitted a report confirming that the development of the corridor “will not compromise the integrity of the revered temple structures or the Nilachal hills”. Saikia dubbed all opposing claims “unfounded and driven by commercial motives”.

Fact Sheet

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to cancel the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

What was the action taken by the police?

How many people did the police detain or arrest?

What is the current status of the detained/accused persons?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

If any arrests took place, were the accused persons produced before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest?

If the accused was not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours, or not produced at all, what were the reasons?

Legislation under which the accused was charged

Was the accused person informed of their right to legal representation? Did the accused person have access to legal aid?

In cases where the accused person approached the court for bail, was bail granted?

Why was bail granted or rejected? If granted, what were the bail conditions and quantum of bail?

Were there any other notable irregularities that took place, or other significant details?

Details of sources (names of accused, names and numbers of any lawyers, names of any police officers contacted)

Status of Project

Original Project Deadline

Whether the Project has been Delayed

Significance of Land to Land Owners/Users

Religious/Sacred/Cultural value

Whether the project was stalled due to land conflict

Source/Reference

Total investment involved (in Crores):

498

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2024

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Legal Data

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958
Section 2 [Defines an ancient monument as an archaeological site that has been in existence for more than 100 years] Section 3 [All monuments and archaeological sites notified under this Act are deemed to be of national importance] Section 19 [Prohibits construction of houses and construction activities within the protected and confers powers with the Central Government to remove any such encroachment within a specified period] Section 20B [Declares a distance of 200 meters in all directions of the protected monument as a regulated area]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Point 7(III) [Prior to the grant of Environmental Clearance, public consultation needs to be carried out to hear the concerns of affected persons or stakeholders due to the environmental impact of a proposed project]
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Gauhati High Court

Case Number

WP(C)/2700/2024, PIL No. 12/2024

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The case filed by Navajyoti Sarma (WP 2700/2024) sought the project from continuing on the grounds of the Kamakhya Mandir being affected. Except for a stone gateway and rock inscription/ rock-cut figures, none of the temples are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 Act. The government counsel contended that the project work would not impact “the matter of worship and overall sacredness and uniqueness of the holy deity”. Area upto 100 meters radius had been declared as a prohibited area. The matter is set to be heard again on June 19, 2024. A similar issue was raised in PIL no. 12/2024. However, the matter has not been heard substantively yet. The case is slated to be heard on June 21, 2024.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Additional Information

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Assam government

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Construction Company: L&T

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Information on the use of criminal law

What was the action taken by the police?

How many people did the police detain or arrest?

What is the current status of the detained/accused persons?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

If any arrests took place, were the accused persons produced before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest?

If the accused was not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours, or not produced at all, what were the reasons?

Legislation under which the accused was charged

Was the accused person informed of their right to legal representation? Did the accused person have access to legal aid?

In cases where the accused person approached the court for bail, was bail granted?

Why was bail granted or rejected? If granted, what were the bail conditions and quantum of bail?

Were there any other notable irregularities that took place, or other significant details?

Resources

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Images

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Video

On 3 April 2024, the Gauhati High Court ordered the Assam government to reply to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the construction of the Maa Kamakhya Temple Access Corridor.

In February 2024, the Prime Minister launched the ambitious Rs 498 crore Kamakhya corridor project. Under the project, the cumulative open space around the temple will increase from 3000 sq ft at present to approximately 100,000 sq ft, spread over three levels. The average width of the access corridor would increase from its current width of 8-10 feet to approximately 27-30 feet, an official told the Hindustan Times. Concurrently, the access corridor will be widened from its current 8-10 feet width to 27-30 feet.

The petitioners appealed to the court to stop the construction of the 'Maa Kamakhya Temple Access Corridor' in Nilachal Hill until necessary approvals and clearances are acquired from the Department of Archaeology under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (as amended in 2010) to safeguard and preserve historically significant monuments, which are more than 2,000 years old.

The Gauhati High Court issued notices to the central and state governments, as well as other involved parties, including the construction company L&T, asking them to respond to the petition.

The petitioners also sought details on a white paper outlining the plans to preserve the monuments of the temple, such as the natural cave, regarded as the cosmic womb and Dasa Mahavidyas, symbolised by natural water springs. They also raised concerns that this could directly impact the sacred water stream in the Kamakhya temple's sanctuary.

Petitioner Navajyoti Sarma informed the court that the project is a five-phase project which involves significant demolition, excavation, and reconstruction within the temple grounds. He also highlighted that no geological or irrigation surveys were conducted before the project's commencement to assess potential impacts on water sources.

On 22 April 2024, advocate D Nath and advocate general Devajit Lon Saikia on behalf of the state government submitted a report confirming that the development of the corridor “will not compromise the integrity of the revered temple structures or the Nilachal hills”. Saikia dubbed all opposing claims “unfounded and driven by commercial motives”.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to cancel the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

498

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2024

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958
Section 2 [Defines an ancient monument as an archaeological site that has been in existence for more than 100 years] Section 3 [All monuments and archaeological sites notified under this Act are deemed to be of national importance] Section 19 [Prohibits construction of houses and construction activities within the protected and confers powers with the Central Government to remove any such encroachment within a specified period] Section 20B [Declares a distance of 200 meters in all directions of the protected monument as a regulated area]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Point 7(III) [Prior to the grant of Environmental Clearance, public consultation needs to be carried out to hear the concerns of affected persons or stakeholders due to the environmental impact of a proposed project]
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Gauhati High Court

Case Number

WP(C)/2700/2024, PIL No. 12/2024

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The case filed by Navajyoti Sarma (WP 2700/2024) sought the project from continuing on the grounds of the Kamakhya Mandir being affected. Except for a stone gateway and rock inscription/ rock-cut figures, none of the temples are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 Act. The government counsel contended that the project work would not impact “the matter of worship and overall sacredness and uniqueness of the holy deity”. Area upto 100 meters radius had been declared as a prohibited area. The matter is set to be heard again on June 19, 2024. A similar issue was raised in PIL no. 12/2024. However, the matter has not been heard substantively yet. The case is slated to be heard on June 21, 2024.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Assam government

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Construction Company: L&T

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

Text Link

Reviewed By

Text Link

Updated By

Text Link

Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch

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