Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
Supreme Court bats against transfer of community resources
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Observations made by the court and significance of these observations.
Context: Recently, the Supreme Court of India held that the Government has no right to transfer “invaluable” community resources like village water ponds to powerful people and industrialists for commercialisation of the property.
What’s the issue?
The judgment came on a plea against the transfer of village ponds’ sites of Saini Village in the National Capital Region to some private industrialists by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority.
Observations made by the Court:
- Protection of such village commons is essential to safeguard the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution.
- These common areas are the lifeline of village communities, and often sustain various chores and provide resources necessary for life.
- The State cannot divest villagers of their existing source of water even if it promises to provide them an alternative site where the water body can be replicated. Such an attitude would display “a mechanical application of environmental protection.”
- There is no guarantee that the adverse effect of destroying the existing water body would be offset and people would be compelled to travel miles to access the alternative site.
Since time immemorial, certain common lands had vested in village communities for collective benefit. Such protections, however, remained on paper. Since Independence, powerful people and a corrupt system had appropriated these lands for personal aggrandisement.
Sources: the Hindu.