SHILLONG, March 02: Opining that the Defense authority here is in contempt of a Gauhati High Court order passed in 2007, NCP legislator, Sanbor Shullai is now contemplating to file a PIL on the matter of encroachment of land in Lawsohtun.
The decision was taken based on February 23, 2007 Judgment of the Guahati High Court on a PIL filed on the matter which had directed that-”no construction work shall be carried out by the Army authority in the area in question (Lawsohtun)”.
The Court had also directed the Advisory Committee on Shillong Land to complete the whole exercise within a period of 60 days from the date of issuing the judgment on the PIL.
“We have decided to file a fresh PIL and also a contempt of court order against violators of the 2007-High Court’s verdict,” Shullai informed on Thursday.
He said that Lawsohtun area is a resource to many stream and drinking water source for the people of Shillong and it also falls under the Meghalaya Protection of Catchment Area Act, 1990 as defined in Section 2 (C).
“The area have at least 7 natural sources which are feeding water supply to the entire Shillong city and the adjoining areas including the defense establishments,” Shullai said.
In view of this, Shullai said that the state government should look into the matter seriously and that the defense authority should also refrain from any encroachment by honoring the High Court’s verdict.
Stating that the Advisory Committee is yet to declare Lawsohtun as a catchment area, the High Court in its judgment had observed - “We are of the considered opinion that to protect and preserve the catchment area vis-à-vis the ecological balance of the area in question, the Advisory Board will sit and take a decision as to whether the Lawsohtun Area should be declared as a catchment area or not.”
It also added that if the decision arrived at by the Advisory Board that Lawsohtun area falls within the definition of catchment area as defined under Act 1990, the state government shall issue a notification to that effect and shall take measures for protection of catchment area as per provision of Act, 1990.
It may be mentioned here the Advisory Committee on Shillong Land was reconstituted on September 24, 2002 through a notification by the Governor.
The committee headed by the then chief minister DD Lapang, was also asked to examine the status of the government land in Shillong acquired at different time since 1863, status of defense land acquired by defense authority from time to time.
“Despite the liberty given by the High Court, the state government is yet to declare the area as a catchment area,” Shullai rued in this regard.
He also said that whether judgment on the PIL filed earlier was taken into consideration by the Advisory Committee is yet to be known till date even as he added that if they are yet to comply then it would be a contempt of court order.
Earlier, the NCP had also sought the intervention of the deputy commissioner of East Khasi Hills District, who had immediately directed the defence authority to stop construction at the area.
“We have also urged him (DC) to convene a meeting between the local leaders of the area, officials of the defence authority and the state forest department to discuss on the matter,” Shullai said.
He further informed that an emergent meeting of the various village dorbars of the area will also be held on Saturday to protest against what he termed as the ongoing illegal encroachment, which may affect the water sources in the area.