In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court has stated that the government has no right to transfer community resources such as lakes or ponds for commercial use. It is against fundamental right Article 21 of the constitution.
- In its judgment, the SC opined that the transfer of community commons, especially like village water resources to a few people or industries is a violation of Article 21 of the constitution.
- It also noted that the transfer of water resources is not a good idea as many parts of the country are facing severe water stress and access to safe drinking water is still inadequate.
- The village common areas are the lifeline of village communities and provide necessary resources for life.
- Transferring them will thus violate the fundamental right of right to life provided under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- The court also stated that the state government concerned cannot take away the existing water source from the villagers even if it promises an alternative site for a water body.
- Such attitude, the Court noted, would amount to “a mechanical application of environmental protection.”
- It further added that damage done to the existing water body could be offset and people would travel miles to access the alternative site.
- The Supreme Court gave the judgment pertaining to a plea filed by activist-lawyer Jitendra Singh over the transfer of village ponds in the National Capital Region to some private industrialists by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority.
- The activist approached the SC when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) refused to take the plea that heavy machinery and excavators are trying to take-over a pond.
- The apex court set aside the tribunal’s order and directed the authorities and the industrialists to remove all obstructions and restore the water bodies within three months.
This is one of the important judgments to be proclaimed by the Supreme Court. In our country, the sight of government authorities goes towards village commons whenever there is talk of development.
As the Court noted, these areas provide an essential livelihood for many village people. Transferring them for private people in the name of development is cruel and hampers the life of these people. It is thus a violation of Article 21, as the court noted.
Though the government provided protections to village commons, these remained on paper since independence. Powerful people and corrupt systems have exploited these resources at will. The SC judgment will now give hope to all those villagers who want to protect their village commons and fight for justice.