HC puts brakes on NIMZ public hearing today

Additional Collector Veera Reddy and other officials making arrangements for public hearing on NIMZ at Yelgoi near Zaheerabad in Sangareddy district on Wednesday.

Additional Collector Veera Reddy and other officials making arrangements for public hearing on NIMZ at Yelgoi near Zaheerabad in Sangareddy district on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: MohdArif

The Telangana High Court on Thursday directed the State government to put on hold the public hearing to be held today (Friday) in Sangareddy on the proposed establishment of National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ).

Delivering the order in a writ petition challenging the convening of the public hearing, a bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy said the hearing, however, can be held in the future. But the State government should comply with the Centre’s guidelines on holding such public meetings. It should be in strict accordance with the law, the bench had made it clear.

Advocate General B.S. Prasad assured the bench that the State government was taking all precautions to ensure the participants of the meeting would not contract COVID-19. However, the bench said the “hearing cannot be allowed as it would clearly violate the Centre’s guidelines which were accepted by the State government”. Moreover, the Central government had not given any exceptions to these rules despite the State government’s claim that “it had made sufficient preparations”. The Centre’s guidelines prohibited not only social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious functions “but also other large congregations,” the order said. The only exceptions were permitting up to 50 persons at a marriage and 20 persons for a funeral or last rites. Barring this, there were no relaxations even to a State function.

Meanwhile, the State government issued G.O. MS No. 93 on June 30 stating that it would follow the Centre’s guidelines over extension of lockdown in containment zones till July 31. The reopening of different activities would be done in a calibrated manner, the GO said.

The petitioner’s counsel Arjun Kumar contended that the proposed project affects 70 villages and at least 1,000 villagers are likely to attend the public hearing. He said that with the State under the grip of COVID-19, many affected persons were unlikely to participate in the hearing. In that case, the hearing becomes more of an illusionary one and less of a substantive one.

Coronavirus was also spreading in Sangareddy. The number of COVID-19 positive persons went up from three on Monday to eight by Wednesday. In the backdrop of this sharp increase, it was not desirable to hold the public hearing, the counsel argued. The government had time till February 2021 to complete the process of hearing and appraisal. “The government should not be in a crashing hurry to hold the public meeting when the State is in the grip of COVID-19,” he contended.

The AG said the government was providing 3,000 bottles of sanitisers, 3,000 masks and 40 infra-red thermometers, 2,000 gloves and pedestal sanitisers for the meeting participants. He told the bench that completion of the project was of prime importance to the State government as it would generate direct and indirect employment to 2.44 lakh persons.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 7:26:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/hc-puts-brakes-on-nimz-public-hearing-today/article32034882.ece

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