Sources now inform that the Central Empowered Committee, where the petition had come up for hearing on 20th May, has in turn issued a show-cause notice to the Affected Citizens of Teesta, the petitioners themselves.
While the ACT has a couple of petitions filed with the CEC, this particular petition which came up hearing specifically concerns the construction and development of Panan hydel project in Dzongu and seeks its cancellation.
The issue of Panan hydro power project and the subsequent protest movement of ACT, has embittered relations between it and the state government to the point of Panan becoming an emotive issue to the protesting Lepchas and a prestige issue issue for the government.
It might be recalled that the Chief Minister had directed that 4 power projects proposed for North District, particularly in the Dzongu area, be scrapped following protests over environmental concerns raised by ACT. Panan was the sole project on which the government decided that it was imperative that it continue in the best interest of the state.
The petition with the CEC was filed by ACT in the year 2005 and seeks direction from the CEC to immediately stay the clearance granted to the project because it was in "violation of Supreme Court Orders".
However, during the hearing on 20th May, the CEC issued notice to the petitioners asking them to take down instructions why the petition should not be dismissed in terms of Supreme Court order.
Sources inform that the petition was reviewed by the members of the Central Empowered Committee which then expressed that ACT petition was against the orders of the Supreme Court"and CEC has no jurisdiction to overrule the Supreme Court."
Infact, The CEC itself was constituted under orders of the Supreme Court. Also present for the hearing were advocates of Himagiri, the Panan hydro project developers. The order of the CEC however does not clarify which Supreme Court order it was referring to.
The primary grievance of ACT against Panan, as also highlighted in their petition, was their contention that it encroached upon the Khangchendzonga National Park and that a portion of encrachment was a part of the Panan project as the developers were undertaking catchment area treatment there.
On the other hand, the State as well as the developers contended that this was not a project component and would be returned after completion of the catchment area treatment. The ACT allegation of violation of Supreme Court orders by the State government and the project developers, has now turned on itself. Other grievances voiced by ACT were influx of outsiders in the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu and the resultant dilution of Lepcha culture and heritage and also environment concerns.
The CEC was constituted on 17th September 2002 through a Gazette Notification issued by the Minsitry of Environment and Forests. The CEC has been constituted as an Authority under the provision of Sub section(3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 in pursuance of the orders of the Supreme Court dated 9-52002 and 9-9-2002 in W.P. 202/95 and 171/96 for a period of five years. The CEC's broad task is to monitor and ensure the compliance of the orders of the Supreme Court concerning the subject matter of forest and wildlife and other issues arising out of the said order. The CEC comprises of 5 members representing government and NGO.
source: Sikkim Now!