Village residents protest widening of Jalandhar-Moga-Barnala highway in Moga district, Punjab

Reported by

Gurfateh Singh Khosa

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

October 26, 2022

October 26, 2022

Updated on

October 26, 2022

Location of Conflict

Machike

Himmatpura, Bande, Madheke, Badhni Kalan, Bhuttar

Moga

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Roads

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

7

ha

Starting Year

2016

State

Punjab

Sector

Infrastructure

The construction of the 144.7 Km long Jalandhar-Moga-Barnala National Highway-71 (NH-71) started in 2016. The project soon drew media attention as it is likely to uproot 22,700 trees. The project was expected to affect more than 10,000 people** **whose agricultural land, commercial and residential properties were acquired for this project in Jalandhar, Moga and Barnala districts. In April 2016, affected community members staged a protest by blocking the Moga-Barnala NH-71.

In the same year, an application was also filed in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by Dr. Amandeep Aggarwal and the Peacock Environment and Wildlife Protection Society, a civil society organisation. The applicants sought a direction to the State government for preventing tree felling for road widening projects. While their application was with reference to the Zirakpur-Bhatinda expressway only, the NGT directed that the state government could undertake further tree felling only after seeking prior permission from the NGT. This translated into halting of the widening of NH-71 project. The Punjab government approached both the Supreme Court and the Punjab High Court regarding this issue. The Supreme Court delivered its order in 2016, while the High Court in 2017. Both courts cleared the tree felling activities for the widening of NH-71.

LCW visited Moga in August 2022 and found that the residents of Machike village, one of the affected villages, continue to suffer because of the highway. The village residents claim they have been protesting at NH-71 site since the last eight months. They are concerned about the way in which they have been deprived of basic necessities due to the widening of the highway.
 
Satnam Singh an affected villager, told LCW that the highway has divided the village into two parts. On one side, the village is elevated at a higher level, while the other side remains at a lower level. This results in water logging in the lower side of the village in the absence of adequate rainwater drainage mechanism in place, impacting everyday commute. Further, Satnam noted that important spaces such as the village Gurudwara and the Shamshaan Ghat (cremation ground) were inaccessible because of the construction. The highway has impacted lives of children as well as they are unable to go to the village school from one side to the other. According to Satnam, the division of the village into two halves also makes it hard for them to access water sources.

Their main demand is that an over-bridge be constructed to connect the two sides of the village. Currently, state officials have arranged for them a makeshift stairs for this purpose. It is however failing to fulfil the needs of the village residents. This demand has been placed before the authorities since 2017 and relevant records such as a mang pattar** **exist with the residents of the village. Even basic transport facilities have been taken away from the villagers as a result of this highway as the village bus stand is not accessible anymore. The protestors feel the project reflects poor planning and inconsiderate behaviour of relevant authorities towards the residents of such villages.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for better access to common land/resources

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common and Private

Type of Common Land

Common and Private

Total investment involved (in Crores):

2000

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2015

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

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [Restriction on diverting forest for that deals with diversion of forest land for non forest purposes]
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    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:

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal, Supreme Court, High Court of Punjab and Haryana

Case Number

O.A. 161-162 of 2016 (NGT), Civil Appeal D No.33942 of 2016 (Supreme Court), CWP 3732/2019 (High Court)

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The National Green Tribunal passed an order on May 19, 2016, restraining the government of Punjab and the project proponent from cutting any trees without the specific permission of the Tribunal. The State Government then approached the Supreme Court against the blanket ban on tree felling issued by the NGT. On October 28, 2016, the Supreme Court suspended the NGT order for a period of four months to enable the State to execute the ongoing project. The Central Government had also approached the High Court against the same NGT order with respect to the military stations sought to be set up at Patiala and Sangrur. On March 1, 2017, the High Court suspended the NGT order for a period of four months to enable the State to execute the military station projects. The High Court noted that there is a substantial amount of expenditure that had already been sanctioned. The number of trees sought to be felled were noted to be 131 at Patiala and 86 at Sangrur. The Court also took note of the order already passed by the Supreme Court and stated that a similar order was to be passed. Thereafter, the matter was considered on several occasions by the NGT. Mainly, different applications seeking permission for cutting trees were taken up. On September 5, 2018, the NGT disposed of the case entirely along with all pending applications filed by the State Government. The Tribunal noted the various compensatory afforestation schemes carried out by the government in its final order, and that any future felling of trees must be done after following the statutory procedure.

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

Protests/marches

Public campaign

Blockades

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Deputy Commissioner, Patwari, Sub Divisional Magistrate, District Revenue Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Patel Infrastructure Limited

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Pendu Khet Mazdoor Union, Kertu Kisan Union

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
Protesters at the protest site

Protesters at the protest site

Image Credit:  

Gurfateh Singh

Protesters at the protest site

Image Credit:  

Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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