Tuesday, May 9, 2023

NGT levys compensation of Rs. 4,000 crores on Bihar Govt, amount to be operated by Bihar Chief Secretary only for waste management

The Original Application No. 606/2018 pertaining to the "Compliance of Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and Other Environmental Issues" was registered on August 20, 2018 in the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).  NGT passed a 64 page long order on May 4, 2023. In respect of State of Bihar, it concluded that "We hope in the light of interaction with the Chief Secretary, the State of Bihar will take further measures in the matter by innovative  approach and stringent monitoring, ensuring that legacy waste to the  extent or more than 11.74 lakh MT as well as unprocessed urban waste of 4072 TPD and gap in liquid waste generation and treatment which is 2193 MLD are bridged at the earliest, shortening the proposed timelines, adopting alternative/interim measures to the extent and  wherever found viable. Restoration plans need to be executed at the earliest simultaneously in all districts/cities/ towns/ villages in a time bound manner without further delay with well laid monitoring mechanism at State and District level. District Magistrates must take ownership for monitoring of sewage and solid waste management and regularly providing report to Chief Secretary on monthly basis and overall compliance be ensured by Chief Secretary for which regular meetings be conducted."

It observed that "considering the statement about gap in sewage generation and treatment and also gap in solid waste management, we  levy compensation of Rs. 4,000/- crores on the State on polluter pays principle for its failure in scientifically managing the liquid and solid waste in violation of mandate of law, particularly judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and this Tribunal. The amount may be kept in a ring-fenced account within two months to be operated as per directions of the Chief Secretary only for waste management (liquid and solid) in the State in the light of above observations. The amount be utilized for setting up solid waste processing facilities, remediation of legacy waste and setting up of STPs and FSSTPs so there remains no gap. Better alternatives to utilize the wet waste for composting at appropriate locations be explored. The scale of expenditure for STPs may be reviewed in the light of realistic expenses involved in decentralized/traditional systems or otherwise." NGT Bench comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson, NGT, Judicial Members Justices Sudhir Agarwal, and Arun Kumar Tyagi and Expert Members Dr. A. Senthil Vel, and Dr. Afroz Ahmad passed this order in the presence of officials from Bihar including Amir Subhani, Chief Secretary,  Arunish Chawla, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development & Housing Department and Dhramendra Singh,  Managing Director, Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited.

NGT heard the matter in compliance with Supreme Court's order  dated September 2, 2014 in Writ Petition No. 888/1996. The Supreme Court observed “handling of solid municipal waste is a perennial challenge and would require constant efforts and monitoring with a view to making the municipal authorities concerned accountable, taking note of dereliction, if any, issuing suitable directions consistent with the said Rules and direction incidental to the purpose underlying the Rules such as upgradation of technology wherever possible. All these matters can, in our opinion, be best left to be handled by the National Green Tribunal established under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The Tribunal, it is common ground, is not only equipped with the necessary expertise to examine and deal with the environment related issues but is also competent to issue in appropriate cases directions considered necessary for enforcing the statutory provisions.” The matter was monitored by the Court for about eighteen years wherein it passed order in 2000 and 2004 directing scientific disposal of waste by setting up of compost plants/processing plants, preventing water percolation through heaps of garbage, creating focused ‘solid waste management cells’ in all States and complying with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules. Even after 26 years of monitoring, 18 years by the Court and eight years by the NGT, "ground situation remains unsatisfactory".

NGT's directions are as under:
i. The Chief Secretary, Bihar may take further remedial measures to ensure compliance of SWM Rules considering the statutory timelines to be sacrosanct as already directed by this Tribunal vide judgment dated 22.12.201620 (para 10). Similarly, the timelines for ensuring setting up of necessary sewage
management systems have to be accepted as rigid timelines in view of judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 22.02.201721 (para 6)
ii. Ring-fenced amount of Rs. 4,000/- crores for solid and sewage management be set apart within two months and such funds be kept as “non-lapsable”. (para 26 & 67)
iii. Legacy waste at 115 ULBs as well as at other ongoing sites be remediated without further delay and quantify remediated legacy waste indicating that no legacy waste is remaining and reported in the next compliance report. (Para 30)
iv. CPCB in consultation with some of the States PCBs and Municipal Corporations may work out environmentally safe methods/options for their use as directed in respect of State of UP (para 32).
v. Plastic waste and construction and demolition waste processing plants be set up ensuring that bio-medical, hazardous and Ewaste are not co-mingled and treated with solid waste (para 33).
vi. Immediate efforts be made for ensuring connectivity with existing STPs and proposed STPs (para 34).
vii. The issues relating to compliance of STPs with standards and utilization of treated sewage be monitored and looked into by centralised mechanism at State level. Instead of high costed STPs in small population towns/villages, oxidation ponds and other low cost options be preferred including modular STPs. Similarly, in-situ remediation projects be duly executed (para 47).
viii. Chief Secretary may immediately set up orientation programme on regular basis at appropriate institutional level to deal with environmental issues at district level. The execution plans should not be held up in repeated tendering systems. (para 55).

The next date of hearing is May 11, 2023.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Caste-based survey raises question of the right to privacy and legislative competence: Patna High Court

Responding to the unanimous resolution to carry out the caste-based survey by both the Houses of the Legislature of Bihar and its approval by the State Cabinet, a PIL was filed on April 5, 2023. It got registered on April 15, 2023. This PIL filed by Youth For Equality was converged with other PILs filed by Akhilesh Kumar, Ek Soch Ek Prayas, Reshma Prasad and Muskan Kumari. These cases were filed the backdrop of the decision of the State Government having decided to conduct a caste-based survey through the General Administration Department, expenditure of which was intended to be taken from the Bihar Contingency Fund, with a target to complete the exercise by February 2023 and a communication issued by the Principal Secretary to the District Officers, also indicates the subject to be of ‘Bihar Caste-based enumeration for determination of caste list for 2022.’ The proforma in which the survey is to be conducted enumerates seventeen heads or details to be collected; one of which is ‘caste’.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran,and Justice Madhuresh Prasad passed an interim order on May 4, 2023 saying, "we direct the State Government to immediately stop the caste-based survey and ensure that the data already collected are secured and not shared with anybody till final orders are passed in the writ petition." In the penultimate paragraph of the order, it says, "We also see from the notification issued that the Government intends to share data with the leaders of different parties of the State Assembly, the ruling party and opposition party which is also a matter of great concern. There definitely arises the larger question of right to privacy, which the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held to be a facet of right to life."

The order states that "Prima facie, we are of the opinion that the State has no power to carry out a caste-based survey, in the manner in which it is fashioned now, which would amount to a census, thus impinging upon the legislative power of the Union Parliament."

The order observes, "we find that the caste-based survey is a census in the garb of a survey; the power to carry out which is exclusively on the Union Parliament which has also enacted a Census Act, 1948. True, there is a compulsion by way of an obligation on the citizen under the Census Act and un-hindered entry conferred on the authorized officers; but also a protection from the records of census not being open to inspection nor admissible in evidence; under Section 15. Though it has been vehemently urged that both Houses of the State Legislature has sanctioned the survey, there is nothing placed on record regarding the deliberations made or the objects sought to be achieved by embarking upon such a massive exercise, that too for the collection of details which include the sensitive issue of caste. There are broad reasons stated in the counter affidavit, but nothing comes out from the notification, nor is any specific reasoning or object stated to have motivated the initiation of the exercise of a caste-based survey, which reasoning or motivation should also be relatable to a time, contemporaneous with the time of bringing out the notification. It is also submitted before us that 80% of the work is over and what remains is mere collation of the details collected and the further action based on such data collected and made available to the State."

In its May 4, 2023 order, the Court had posted the the writ petitions for hearing on July 3, 2023. On May 5, the Advocate General mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice and sought an early hearing. The current listing position shows that it is listed for orders before the Chief Justice on May 9, 2023.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Finance Act, 2023 enacted and notified without discussion in Parliament

The Finance Act, 2023, an Act to give effect to the financial proposals of the Central Government for the financial year 2023-2024 has been enacted and notified subsequent to the assent of the President on  March 31, 2023. This 105 page long law has eight parts, 174 sections and five schedules. Its sections 2 to 127 has come into force from April 1, 2023 and its sections 128 to 163 shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint. 

This law amends/inserts provisions under sections 2, 9, 10, 10AA, 11, 12A, 12AB, 17, 28, 35D, 43B, 43D, 44AB, 44AD, 44ADA, 44BB, 44BBB, 45, 47, 48, 49, 50AA, 54, 54EA, 54EB, 54EC, 54ED, 54EF, 55, 56, 72A, 72AA, 79, 80C, 80CCC, 80CCD, 80CCG, 80CCH, 80G, 80-IAC, 80LA, 87, 87A, 88, 92BA, 92D, 94B, 111A, 112, 115A, 115BAC, 115BAD, 115BB, 115BBI, 115JC, 115JD, 115TD, 115UA, 115UB, 115VP, 116, 119, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135A, 140B, 142, 148, 149, 151, 153, 154, 155, 158A, 158AB, 170A, 177, 189, 192A, 193, 194B, 194BA, 194BB, 194LC, 194N, 194R, 196A, 197, 206AB, 206C, 206CC, 206CCA, 241A, 244A, 245, 245D, 245MA, 245R, 246, 249, 250, 251, 253, 264, 267, 269SS, 269T, 270A, 270AA, 271, 271A, 271AAC, 271AAD, 271C, 271FAA, 271J, 274, 275, 276A, 276B, 279, 287 and 295 of the Income-tax Act, 1961.   

This law amends/inserts provisions under sections 25, 65, 65A, 127C, 157 and 159 of the Customs Act, 1962. 

The Finance Act, 2023 amends/inserts provisions under sections 9, 9A and 9C and Fist Schedule and Second Schedule of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975. 

This law amends/inserts provisions under sections 10, 16, 17, 23, 30, 37, 39, 44, 52, 54, 56, 62, 109, 110, 114, 117, 118, 119, 122, 132, 138 and 158 and Schedule III Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017. 

This law amends/inserts provisions under sections 2, 12 and 13 of the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017. 

The Finance Act, 2023 amends/inserts provisions under the Schedule to the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017. 

This law amends/inserts sections 4A and 15 and Schedule in Part A of the Government Savings Promotion Act, 1873. In the Schedule, in Part A, for serial numbers 7 and 8 and the entries relating thereto, the following shall be substituted, namely:— "7. Public Provident Fund Scheme, 8. National Savings Certificates (VIII Issue) Scheme, 2019, 9. Kisan Vikas Patra Scheme, 2019 and 10. PM CARES for Children Scheme, 2021".

In the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, in Schedule I, in article 47, in division D, under the heading "Exemption", for the portion beginning with "Policies of life-insurance" and ending with "authority of the Central Government.", the following shall be substituted, namely:— "Policies of life insurance— (a) granted by the Director-General of Post Offices in accordance with the rules for Postal Life-Insurance issued under the authority of the Central Government; and (b) under the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY)."

In the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956, in section 18A, after clause (b), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:— '(ba) regulated by the International Financial Services Centres Authority established under section 4 of the International Financial Services Centres Authority Act, 2019, in an International Financial Services Centre and issued by a Foreign Portfolio Investor. Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause, the expression "Foreign Portfolio Investor" shall have the meaning assigned to it in clause (u) of rule 2 of the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) Rules, 2019 made under section 46 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999;'.

In the Central Sales Tax Act,1956, for section 19, the following section shall be substituted, namely:— "19. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Act or in any other law for the time being in force, the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal constituted under section 129 of the Customs Act, 1962 shall be the Authority under this Act to settle inter-State disputes falling under sections 6A and 9." Section 24 of Central Sales Tax Act has been omitted and its Section 25 has been amended. 

Besides these the Finance Act, 2023 amends/inserts provisions in sections 2 and 46 the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988. In the Finance Act, 2001, the Seventh Schedule shall be amended in the manner specified in the Sixth Schedule of the 2023 law. It amends section 98 of the Finance Act, 2004. It also amends sections 8 and 13 of the the Unit Trust of India (Transfer of Undertaking and Repeal) Act, 2002.

The Lok Sabha had passed the Finance Bill 2023 without discussion with over 60 amendments to the Bill, which was initially introduced in the Lok Sabha on February 1, 2023. These amendments include changes related to IFSC, capital gains, TDS/TCS, Securities Transaction Tax (STT) and GST Appellate Tribunal.



Saturday, April 1, 2023

Rs 99,178 crore may not have reached beneficiaries in Bihar: CAG

Bihar State Finances Audit Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India for the year ending 31st March 2022 (Report No.1 of the year 2023) reveals that 23, 188 Utilisation Certificates (UCs) valued at the expenditure of Rs 99,178 crore from 2021 to 2022 by the several departments remained outstanding till March 31 last year. 

The UCs of expenditure of Rs 99,178 crore of grants-in-aid made by the state government has not been submitted. In its report, CAG has observed that "in case of non-submission of the UCs, there is a risk that the amount mentioned in finance accounts may not have reached the beneficiaries."

The CAG report was tabled in the state assembly on March 31, 2023. The report was tabled by Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Bihar Finance Minister. 

According to the CAG report, “During the year 2021-223, 23,188 UCs of various projects and schemes (amounting Rs 99,178 crore), which had become due (drawn up to August 31, 2020) for submission, were not submitted by the bodies and authorities of the state against the grants-in-aid”.

The report further said, “Therefore, there was no assurance that the amount of Rs 99,178 crore had actually been utilized, for the purpose for which it was sanctioned/authorized by the Legislature. High pendency of UCs is fraught with risk of misappropriation of funds and fraud. The major defaulting departments were Panchayati Raj (Rs 34,707.48 crore), Education (Rs 25,867.47 crore) and Urban Development department (Rs 11,092.7 crore).” 

Responding to the CAGs report, Bihar Finance minister has asked all heads of departments to submit UCs within the stipulated time. Rule 271 of the Bihar Treasury Code (211) states that UCs in respect of grants-in-aid received by the grantee must be furnished by the grantee to the authority that sanctioned it, within 18 months from the date of receipt of grant or before applying for a further grant on the same subject.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Samyukt Kisan Morcha to decide next course of action on April 30

A general body meeting of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) will be held on April 30, 2023, to plan the next course of action in the aftermath of the Kisan Mahapanchayat and the meeting of a 15-member delegation of SKM with the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare at Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi on March 20. The delegation submitted a memorandum to him. 

(Photo: Memorandum submitted by the delegation of  Samyukt Kisan Morcha to Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar)
The Kisan Mahapanchayat placed its 10-point demands before the union government to comply with the written assurances given to the SKM on December 9, 2021 by the government to address the grievance of the farmers. These demands are:

    According to the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission, a law should be enacted and implemented to guarantee procurement at (Minimum Support Price) MSP in accordance the formula of C2 + 50 percent on all crops.
    SKM has clarified on many occasions that the committee constituted by the Union government on MSP and its declared agenda is opposed to the demands of the farmers. SKM demanded scrap ping of this committee and set up a new committee on MSP for legal guarantees for all crops, with proper representation of farmers, including representatives of SKM, as promised by the Union government.
    More than 80% of the farmers are trapped in debt and forced to commit suicide due to rising input costs in agriculture and not getting remunerative prices for the crop. In such a situation, the SKM demands debt waiver for all farmers and reduction in input costs, including fertilizers.
    The Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022 be sent to the Joint Parliamentary Committee for consideration should be withdrawn. The central government had given a written assurance to the SKM that the Bill would be introduced in Parliament only after consultation with SKM. But despite this, the government presented it in the Parliament without any discussion. SKM reiterates the demand for free electricity for agriculture and 300 units of electricity for rural households.
    Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni, the main conspirator in the murder of four farmers and a journalist at Tikonia in Lakhimpur Kheri district, should be expelled from the cabinet and arrested and sent to jail.
    The government should fulfill the promise of providing compensation and rehabilitation to the families of the farmers who were martyred and injured during the farmer's movement and in Lakhimpur Kheri.
    SKM demanded abolition of the questionable Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. Union government should adopt ll measures to compensate the farmers for the continuous losses due to floods, drought, hailstorm, untimely and/or excessive rains, crop related diseases, wild animals, stray cattle etc. Implement universal, comprehensive and effective crop insurance and compensation package for crops. Damage assessment should be done on the basis of individual plots.
    The Kisan Pension Scheme of ₹5,000 per month for all farmers and farm-labourers should be implemented immediately.
    The fabricated cases registered against the farmers in the states and other states and union territories during the farmer's movement should be withdrawn immediately.
    Land should be allocated for the construction of a memorial for the martyred farmers at Singhu Morcha.








Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Daughter of Rahul Sankrityayan protests transfer of artifacts and manuscripts from Patna Museum to Bihar Museum

Note: According to the audit report of CAG, “The Bihar Heritage Development Society established to acquire/collect, conserve and preserve the archaeological remains and artifacts could not achieve its objectives. The conservation and documentation of antiquities, digitisation and publication of collected manuscript/books in the museums were not according to the standards prescribed in the International Council of Museums (ICOM) code of ethics. Tibbati manuscript brought by Rahul Sanskrityayan in Patna Museum could not be translated/published. The Directorate of Museum did not have database or inventory of antiquities in its possessions.” 

The audit report observes: "Scrutiny of records of Patna Museum, Patna revealed that six thousand Tibbati Manuscripts were handed over to Patna Museum in the year 1929 by Rahul Sankrityayan....it was found that 20 of them were torn and no steps of conservation were taken despite availability of funds (10 lakh) since March 2008. The funds were kept in fixed deposits of bank." It further observes that "As per  'Practical Handbook on 'Inventories and Documentation of ICOM, Running a Museum" the museum should maintain an Accession Register, with a checklist of all the acquisitions. It should have columns for accession number, date, source, method and brief description of the group, number of objects making up the group and the name or initials of the Museum Curator." CAG's performance audit states that "During audit of test checked museums, it was found that the Accession Register was not maintained in museums except Patna Museum, Patna where the Register was not properly maintained. Five out of 41 Accession Registers were test checked in Patna Museum and it was found that 9570 antiquities were entered in the Registers. Out of these, 2031 antiquities had no date of accession, 773 antiquities had no date of provenance, 1213 antiquities had no date of donation, 2496 antiquities had no date of receipt and 7597 antiquities had no information about the placement.        


Shri Nitish Kumarji,
Chief Minister of Bihar
Honourable Sir, 
I have recently come to know that your government plans to change the authority to manage the above institute, giving the responsibility to Bihar Museum. I, as the daughter of Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayana strongly protest this proposal. 
I had written to you on 12th September 2017 when a similar proposal was made,and protested on the grounds that the Rahul Collection is a provisional donation to the Patna Museum, made without any remuneration and as the family and heirs of Rahulji we should be consulted and notified before any such change is made as regards my Father’s invaluable donation and the Bihar Government’s ideas regarding it. At that time you had agreed to allow the Rahul Collection to remain in Patna Museum and for this I thank you.
Today I find that a similar proposal is being made again.
You must be well aware that Rahul Sankrityayana is an internationally known name.A freedom fighter, a linguist, a Buddhist and Sanskrit scholar, social thinker and author whose reputation has not faded, rather it has increased even after his passing. Scholars from many universities not just in India but also Europe, Japan and America have devoted years to studying his contributions in the fields of Buddhist studies, history, archaeology, literature, socio-politics, travel writing, indeed all the disciplines he touched and wrote about. His life’s trajectory took him to Bihar in the 1920s and he lived and worked there through the years of the Freedom Struggle, working tirelessly among peasants and the depressed classes. He endured six years in jail terms in Bihar prisons of Buxar, Chhapra and Hazaribagh. Yet his erudition placed him among the most respected scholars of his time. The title of “MAHAPANDIT” is not merely an honorific: it was bestowed on him by the Kashi Pandit Sabha Varanasi in 1933 in recognition of his contribution to the progress of Sanskrit studies subsequent to his discovery of the rare ancient texts that were lost in India after the destruction of the monasteries of Nalanda, Vikramshila, and Odantapuri. The title was given after his first journey to Tibet in 1929-1930.  These texts were invaluable at that time. The Thangka paintings he brought back are also priceless. These were housed in Patna Museum. He made three more journeys to Tibet and came back with many more originals and photo plates of important texts and paintings. Coins, garments and other significant objects he collected on his travels in India and abroad were also added to the Rahul Collection to which he made further additions up to 1956. The idea was for all these objects to be easily accessible for study by students and scholars in context and close to the places where they had originated. Over 6400 texts and photos he brought are housed in the Bihar Research Society

I strongly oppose this proposal by the Bihar Government. The integrity and the physical safety of the Rahul Collection is threatened by being split up and removed for transport or display by private entities. This proposal is an insult to the memory of my Father and his vision for our country and its intellectual heritage. 
If the Bihar Government is not able to look after the Rahul Collection any longer, the family should be consulted about forming a committee of serious scholars from all over India to decide its future. It should definitely not be handed over, out of government control, on the whim of the State Government. Despite his significant contribution to Bihar, Rahulji has not been given the honour which was due to him. It will be a way of righting this neglect by creating a dedicated centre for higher studies in his name, housed in the historic premises of the Patna Museum to which he devoted so much effort. 
I trust that you will give this matter serious consideration and inform me of the outcome. 
Thanking you, 
Jaya Sankrityayan Parhawk

Kalapani villages omitted from Nepal census report, included in India's census report

The recently-released final report of the Nepalese census does not have data of the Kalapani area which included in a recent preliminary census report. Kalapani, is a 35 square kilometer area claimed by India and Nepal. The data is related to the Kuti, Gunji and Nabi villages of Kalapani. In the final report released on March 24, the data of these three Kalapani villages has been omitted. 

On May 20, 2020, Nepal released a new map of its own territory that expanded its claim an additional 335 square kilometres up to the Kuthi Yankti river, including Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura. The residents of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura were not counted after the 1961 Nepal census. The final census report of 2021 Nepal census did not included data of Kuti, Gunji and Nabi villages of the Kalapani area. These areas were included in the preliminary census report released in January 2022.

Nepal shares 1880 km long border with India and 1414 Km long border with Tibet; an autonomous region of Peoples Republic  of China. Accordaing to the Article 5, of Sugauli Treaty. concluded between East India Company and Nepal, the King of Nepal gave up his claims over the region west of the river Kali which originates in the high Himalayas. 

Both Nepal and India accept the Sugauli Treaty, according to which the Kali River forms the India-Nepal border in that region, the difference in perception is over the correct source of this river. Both India and Nepal lay claim over the Kalapani region. Under the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, the areas falling east of Kali river were to belong to the Kingdom of Nepal and west of the river formed the Kumaon region of British India. The origin of the river, however, remained a matter of mutual discord. Nepal maintains that the headwaters lie in Limpiyadhura mountains, therefore, it makes a claim over the entire stretch downwards. India claims that the river originates from down south in Kalapani, therefore, the name Kali, and consequently, it is from here that the treaty applies. It considers this area as part of Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand. Nepal had so far claimed 35 square km of Kalapani area. However, it is now officially staking a claim on a 370 square km area comprising Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani. The politics of India-Nepal has national security implications.

British India conducted the first regular surveys of the upper reaches of the river Kali, in the 1870s. A map of 1879 vintage shows the whole Kalapani area as part of India . India has refuted Nepal ’s proposal that the map sketched by the British-Indian government in 1850 and 1856 should mark the basis for the origin of Mahakali river. India has pressed for the map sketched in 1879 and 1928/29 as a reference point.

In essence, these differences are situated in the differences in the maps possessed by both the countries. It is further complicated by the shifting course of the Mahakali river in the area that has been accepted as the boundary. A Joint Technical Boundary Committee (JILBC) was formed 18 years ago, which meets twice a year in Nepal and India consecutively to discuss this issue.

Since 1997 Nepal has been claiming that Kalapani, Pithoragarh district in the Kumaon Division of the Uttarakhand state was its territory although this territory is an area under Indian administration. From 1998, the joint technical committee of officials from India and Nepal have been discussing the issue. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Nepal PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal gets new coalition partners, wins vote of confidence

For the second time in 70 days, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-MC) and Nepal Prime Minister won vote of confidence in the Parliament of Nepal on March 20, 2023 with the help of new coalition partners. Dahal secured 172 votes in the 275-member Nepal's House of Representatives. 89 lawmakers voted against him and one legislator abstained. Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Centre, Rashtriya Swatantra Party, Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal, Loktantrik Samajbadi Party Nepal, CPN-Unified Socialist, Janamat Party, Nagarik Unmukti Party, Rashtriya Janamorcha and Aam Janata Party voted in Dahal's favour. CPN-UML and Rashtriya Prajatantra Party voted against him. In the voting process, Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party abstained. Dahal was born in Pokhara, Nepal. He received a diploma of science in agriculture from Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science in Rampur, Chitwan, Nepal.

According to Nepal's Constitution, the Prime Minister is required to take a vote of confidence within 30 days after political parties supporting the government withdraw their support. The incumbent Prime Minister had to take a vote of confidence before March 26.

Dahal was forced to seek a vote of confidence as two parties in the seven-party alliance – Rastriya Prajatantra Party and CPN-UML– withdrew their support to his government. These two parties opposed his proposal to back Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Paudel for the position of president. Earlier he had passed the first floor test on January 10, 2023 with 268 votes after all parties except the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party and the Rastriya Janamorcha voted in favour of the government.

Dahal was sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister on December 25, 2022 for the third time after the 2022 Nepalese general election, with an alliance with political parties including CPN (UML), Rastriya Swatantra Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party. In the first floor test, Dahal secured over a 99 per cent vote of confidence from the parliament on January 10, 2023. He had to seek a vote of confidence for a second time after he he formed a 9-party coalition supporting the Nepali Congress Presidential candidate. 

Dahal held the prime ministerial post from 2008 to 2009 as the first prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. He again became the Prime Minister from 2016 to 2017.  

'Prachanda', the Nepali Prime Minister is expected to visit India soon on his first foreign trip after becoming PM for the third time.


Supreme Court orders for payment of salaries to Patna High Court judges Shailendra Singh, Arun Kumar Jha, Jitendra Kumar, Alok Kumar, Sunil Dutta Mishra, Chandra Prakash Singh and Chandra Shekhar Jha

In Justice Shailendra Singh v Union of India, the Chief Justice headed 3-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court directed that "The salaries of the petitioners which have been withheld, shall be released to them on the basis of the position as it obtained prior to the letter dated 13 December 2022 of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice." This order brought relief to the seven judges of the Patna High Court, namely, Justices Shailendra Singh, Arun Kumar Jha, Jitendra Kumar, Alok Kumar, Sunil Dutta Mishra, Chandra Prakash Singh and Chandra Shekhar Jha. (Photo: Justice Shailendra Singh)

Prior to their elevation to the High Court from the State Judicial Service, these judges were covered by the National Pension Scheme (NPS). Later, their NPS contributions were transferred to the GPF accounts given to them after their appointment as High Court judges. 

Earlier, on February 4, 2023, the Chief Justice headed bench of Supreme Court had issued notice and passed an order that recorded that  Mr K M Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General appears on behalf of the respondents. Having due regard to the fact that the petition impinges upon the conditions of service of Judges of the High Court, who have been recruited from the district judiciary, K M Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) fairly states that he would have the matter duly looked into at the appropriate level of the Government of India so that this Court can be informed on the next date of hearing of the decision which has been taken to remedy the grievance. 

Senior Advocate K.V. Vishwanathan and Advocate Prem Prakash, AOR appeared for the petitioners. The respondents were represented by K.M. Nataraj, ASG.  The case will be heard again on March 27 2023.


Friday, March 10, 2023

Law, Environment & Development Journal, University of London publishes paper on "Journey of Agricultural Produce Market Committee Law in Bihar"

The current issue of Law, Environment & Development (LEAD) Journal has published a paper titled "Journey of Agricultural Produce Market Committee Law in Bihar: An Inquiry into the Implications of Repeal of Bihar APMC Law". The paper dwells on Prime Minister's apology, Chief Minister's silence and digitalisation of agriculture through contract agreements with firms like Microsoft, Amazon, Patanjali. The LEAD Journal is managed by School of Oriental and African Studies(SOAS), University of London & Geneva based the International Environmental Law Research Centre (IELRC).

The paper examines the context of the establishment of the Agricultural Produce Market Commission (APMC) by the Bihar government through the enactment of the Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1960 and the reasons for its repeal in 2006.

It looks at the Act’s constitutionality and the unconstitutionality of its repeal in light of the orders by the Supreme Court and the Patna High Court, as well as the Indian Constitution. Agriculture is a state subject under the Constitution. 

The paper examines the central Bypass APMC Act, 2020 and its repeal. It undertakes a comparative study to trace the impact on agricultural marketing infrastructure and farmers' plight. It draws inferences from comparing APMC with government schools and hospitals created for economic justice, equity, and equality.

The full paper is available at https://lead-journal.org/content/a1804.pdf

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyay is no more, but his judicial legacy remains alive

Justice (Dr.) Anil Kumar Upadhyay was to demit his office as judge of Patna High Court in December 2024 but he demitted his human form on March 1, 2023, at a hospital in Chennai. He was serving as judge since May 2017. Prior to that he worked as a law teacher and a lawyer. 

His judgment in Neeraj Kumar v. State of Bihar provides an insight into his judicial mind. In this case the petitioners challenged the Departmental Notification issued vide Memo No. 514 dated 15/06/2020, whereby it was clarified that the cut-off date for acquiring of academic and training Patna High Court CWJC No.6664 of 2020 dt.15-12-2020 70/78 eligibility, for the purpose of appointment on the post of teacher had been 23/11/2019 and as such candidates who have subsequently passed the e Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) examination in the month of December 2019 would not be eligible for appointment in light of Departmental Notification issued vide Memo No.482 dated 08/06/2020 as same has been exclusively issued for candidates, who have passed 18 months in-service course of D.El.Ed. conducted by National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) for which order has been passed in the case of CWJC No.19842/2019 (Sanjay Kumar Yadav v. State of Bihar) by the High Court. 

Drawing on Supreme Court's decision in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Aravind Kumar Srivastava (2015), Justice Upadhyay observed that "it has been settled by various judicial pronouncements that when a particular set of employees is given relief by the court, all other identically situated persons need to be treated alike by extending that benefit. Not doing so would amount to discrimination and would be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. This principle needs to be applied in service matters more emphatically as the service jurisprudence evolved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court from time-to-time postulates that all similarly situated persons should be treated similarly. Merely because they did not approach the court earlier, they are not to be treated differently." He provided the reference for it saying, "Reference be made to (2015) 1 SCC 347, para 22." A joint reading of both the decisions reveal that the subsequent para of 2015 decision has also been relied upon by him. 

Notably, on February 7, 2022, in R. Muthukumar v. Chairman and Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd., Justice S. Ravindra Bhat too reiterated the decision in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Aravind Kumar Srivastava "where it was held that a public employer is bound to extend non-discriminatory treatment to all candidates, regardless of whether they approach the court or not, and offer employment to similarly situated candidates and employees." 

In his decision Justice Upadhyay wrote, "a judgment in rem is generally said to be a judgment declaratory of the status of some subject matter, whether this be a person, or a thing. Where the intervention of the court is sought for the adjudication of a right or title to property, not merely as between the parties but against all persons generally, the action is in rem. It is a judgment of a court determining the status of a person or thing." He drew on Supreme Court's decision in the case of Deccan Paper Mills Co. Ltd. v. Regency Mahavir Properties (2020). 

He observed, "viewed from the said angle it is apparent that the decision of the court in CWJC No. 19842 of 2019 was a decision determining the status of the class of persons i.e. D.EL.ED candidates from NIOS who were held to be eligible and hence being a decision in rem and therefore will cover not only the writ petitioner therein but all other similarly situated." He recorded that "the petitioners have already explained that even the B.Ed. degree holders are similarly situated to that of the D.EL.ED. candidates as they are treated equally for appointment to the post of teachers in terms of the advertisements without any distinction. Thus, once the qualification of D.EL.ED. candidate is considered on basis of the eligibility date on the last date of submission of the form in terms of notification dated 08.06.2020, the other candidates as well possessing the required qualification as on last date of submission of the application form also requires to be given similar opportunity, failing which it will be discriminatory and violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India."

He engaged with the submissions of P.K. Shahi and Mrigank Mauli for the Respondents, Y.V. Giri and Ashish Giri for the petitioners. He appreciated the arguments of Shahi and Mauli. But he found the submissions Giris based on Sanjay Kumar Yadav v. The State of Bihar to be misconceived because "It is well settled that a judgment is an authority of what it decides and not what follow logically." He observed that "Sanjay Kumar Yadav case and not an independent decision for universal extension of time for submission of application."

For these reasons, he dismissed all the 345 writ applications against State of Bihar through Principal Secretary, Education Department, Deputy Secretary, Education Department, Director, Primary Education and Director, Secondary Education, Government of Bihar.

Justice Upadhyay was born on December 4, 1962. His father Vidya Dhar Upadhyay worked as Section Officer, Patna High Court and retired on August 31, 1982. He did LLB, LLM, Ph.D. from Patna University. He worked as part time lecturer faculty of law in Commerce College, Magadh University from August 22, 1988 to 2010. He worked as part time lecturer in Patna Law College from 1989 to 1996 and 2004 to 2006 and also worked as Visiting Faculty in Chanakya National Law University from 2007 to May 2017. He worked as Standing Counsel, Patna High Court, Patna from December from 2010 to May 2017. He was a Counsel for Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa, Samastipur from 2010 to 2016, Bihar Agriculture University, Sabbour, Bhagalpur from 2010 to April 2017, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University, Pusa from January 2017 to May 2017 and worked as Panel counsel for Dental Council of India from 2015 to May 2017.

After an 11-Judge Bench of the Patna High Court suspended the operation of an order passed by Justice Rakesh Kumar highlighting corruption in the judicial system, a full Bench quashed the same. Justice Kumar had ordered a CBI probe and an enquiry by the Patna district judge into how a former IAS officer whom he had denied anticipatory bail in a corruption case was granted regular bail by a trial court.

A full bench of the Patna High Court, headed by Chief Justice A.P. Sahi, set aside Justice Kumar's order, terming it as an instance of judicial and administrative overreach and a complete nullity.  The bench declared the order "to be coram non judice". However, the High court's full bench, comprising justices Anjana Mishra and Anil Kumar Upadhyay, restored judicial work to Justice Kumar that he had been stripped of the day he passed his order questioning the grant of regular bail to the former IAS officer by the trial court a day after Justice Kumar and Chief Justice AP Shahi reportedly met Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Justice Kumar had passed an order on August 28, 2019 order, taking suo motu cognisance of the bail granted by a lower court to the retired IAS officer in a corruption case. He took up and disposed of an anticipatory bail plea filed by former IAS officer KP Ramaiah in connection with the multi-crore Bihar Mahadalit Vikas Mission Fund Scam. By an earlier order dated March 23, 2018, Ramaiah’s plea was already dismissed by the High Court.  During the proceeding, Justice Kumar took on record a news report published in Dainik Jagran, a Hindi newspaper whereby, on the date that Ramaiah surrendered before the trial court, the regular Special Judge (Vigilance) went on leave. Thereafter, Ramaiah surrendered and was granted bail by the judge on the same date.  Taking note of the turn of the events, Justice Kumar had opined that the way Ramaiah was granted bail required a deeper probe. Justice Kumar ordered an inquiry to be conducted by the District Judge, Patna to check and verify the news report. He also ordered an inquiry as to whether on the date of granting bail, the regular vigilance court was on leave due to a genuine cause or went on leave in a calculated way.  Additionally, the District Judge was also asked to examine the record of cases disposed of by the in-charge judge in the last six months.

Setting aside Justice Kumar's order the high court's full bench headed by Chief Justice Sahi said, "A wrong order requires setting aside if it has travelled beyond the objective boundaries and has far-reaching consequences in setting a trend which no law recognizes.  The passing of such an order has the inherent danger of creating uncertainty and a feeling that all things can be set right on exercise of authority by a judge even though he may not have legal power to do so. Justice Upadhyay was part of this "historic" Bench. 

Subsequently. Supreme Court Collegium recommended transfer of Patna High Court Chief Justice Sahi to the Madras High Court, and it recommended the transfer of Justice Kumar to the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Justice Upadhyay's view on these transfers would have been insightful.  


Monday, February 27, 2023

Drainage Crisis in Kosi River Basin

Drainage crisis in the Kosi river basin has become an annual ritual of aerial surveys, flood relief, dubious assurances, and constitution of committees, judicial probe and the like. Kosi is a major tributary of the Ganga river.

Nothing can illustrate the fate of various committees, commissions and Task Forces constituted to study flood and drainage problem since 1950s to 2008 better than what R Rangachari, Chairman, Expert Committee on the Implementation of the recommendations of Rashtriya Barh Ayog said on August 19, 2008. He said, `I am not aware as to what follow up actions were all taken on this Report. It is my impression that really not much has been done to implement the suggestions made by the committee's report. Rangachari was on Prime Ministers Task Force on Flood Control constituted in 2004. 

Justice Rajesh Balia judicial inquiry commission constituted in the aftermath of breach in an embankment was given nine extensions to undertake a comprehensive probe on six terms of reference related to the flood-drainage crisis in Kosi river Basin. It submitted its report in March 2014 with recommendations for remedial measures. So far there has been no remedial action. 

It is noteworthy that National Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the Government of India announced in 2004 made a solemn pledge to the people of the country to undertake Long-pending schemes in specific states that have national significance, like flood control and drainage in North Bihar (that requires cooperation with Nepal as well). Despite acknowledging the problem, it is shocking to observe that neither central nor Bihar government `conducts any survey to assess the effect of flood control measures on socio-economic condition of the society. This hold true for Nepal as well. Given the fact that the coalition government in Bihar comprises of parties that had adopted the CMP, there is a compelling logic for them to reiterate their pledge and act on it. 

A look at the statements of the Indian Prime Ministers, the Nepalese Prime Ministers and the Bihar Chief Ministers reveal how they remain enveloped in the technocentric approaches that caused the calamity in the first place. 

After the breach in the embankment at Kusaha in the Kosi region, Bihar Chief Minister requested India's External Affairs Minister on 19 August, 2008 to approach Nepal Government to ensure law and order as per Kosi Agreement in order to repair the breach that took place in Nepal. 
On 20 August, 2008, Nepali Prime Minister took stock of the post-calamity situation in the Kosi region and said "Koshi agreement was a historic blunder" and "People are suffering due to this agreement". The agreement led to the construction of embankments and proposals for a high dam.   

All this clearly demonstrates how although the more things change on the ground, the more they remain the same. A Fact Finding Mission on Kosi that visited the flood affected parts of North Bihar and Nepal demanded a White Paper on the current deluge and drainage in the Kosi basin in general and North Bihar in particular in order to address the drainage congestion crisis that has resulted from the so-called solutions. A White Paper on South Asia's biggest environmental crisis in Kosi river basin is long due. 

Following the eighth breach in th embankments in August 2008, besides four panchayats in Nepal, four North Bihar districts- Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura and Araria- got worst affected by floods. In addition to these twelve districts -- Purnia, Katihar, Khagaria, Muzaffarpur, West Champaran, Saran, Sheikhpura, Vaishali, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Patna and Nalanda were affected by the floods as well. An estimated 35 lakh people suffered due to the flood crisis. As per Bihar government own reports, 48 lakh people in 22 districts were in need of assistance due to flood. Despite the institutional memory of crisis in Kosi river basin, it ends up creating a situation where "contractors love drainage crisis". The primary function of floodwater is to drain out excess water. It has not been allowed to perform its functions due to unthinking engineering interventions.

Any judicial or executive probe that does not fix criminal liability is suspect because the fate of such commissions and committees are a foregone conclusion. It is a routine exercise of no consequence. However, since the terms of reference of Justice Balia Commission was focused on Kosi High-Level Committee, a multilateral body, it merited attention. But the biggest limitation of the Commission was that it did not and could not question the institutional status quo that is guilty of perpetuating the crisis. Dozens of such reports prepared by Commissions of all ilk gather dust and are moth eaten. At most they become campaign tools during elections.

The Inquiry Commission should have recommended fixing charges of criminal neglect against the members of the Kosi High-Level Committee, who waited for the calamity to happen despite having sufficient information that could have at least led to evacuation of the people on time prior to the man-made crisis. However, it is quite sad that the Terms of Reference of the Commission was so devised as to create a rationale for Kosi High Dam in Nepal. The Commission has underlined in its report that relevant departments of the state government did not provide the information it sought. The report of Justice Balia Commission met the fate of the reports of the Rangachari Committee and Rashtriya Barh Aayog. 

Drainage problem in Kosi has failed to alter the policy regime of the State that favours structural solutions regardless of the natural drainage it may impede. Proposals like High Dam on Kosi is as good as jumping from the frying pan into the fire if the experience with embankments is anything to go by.

Even when one chooses to ignore changing morphology of the river, the estimated lifespan of a dam and embankment is 25 years and 37 years respectively underlines the transitory nature of technocentric interventions.

For several decades, each and every proponent of embankments, Multi-purpose Kosi High Dam, and diversion of rivers for Interlinking of Rivers project have merely been shouting I have all the facts about the dynamic and unstable geology and violence of Kosi to scare people in order to make people surrender their judgement. People seem to have unquestioning and unsuspecting respect for facts. Governments in India and Nepal relied on these very facts to sign Kosi agreement. Now the Nepal Prime Minister has regretted the suicidal agreement on Kosi, signed in 1954, as the main cause behind the flooding of the Nepali territory every year. Nepals sense of grievance regarding Kosi may be justified because the treaty reveals itself as outdated and unfair to both the parties. The proponents of High Dam and diversion of rivers seem to feign ignorance about decommissioning of 1,797 dams in USA since 1912 to make room for the free flow of the rivers. Notably, 69 dams were removed in 2020 alone. 

Counting on the Kosi treaty, Union Ministry of Water Resources misled the Rajya Sabha on March 11, 2008 on the issue of Floods in North Bihar by claiming, Government has taken various steps in the direction of water management to stop the flood in north Bihar coming from the rivers of Nepal. There has been no significant shift in the way the Kosi issue was perceived in the 1950s and in recent times. 

The treaty has remained quite pronounced because a carrot of Kosi High Dam, first raised in 1948, has been dangling before the flood victims as one of the `permanent solutions to the problem of recurring floods. Ironically, embankments as temporary solution have become reasonably permanent whereas the `permanent solution has remained elusive. What is `permanent and how permanent is `permanence? It must be acknowledged now that there is a manifest and condemnable insincerity in proposing Multi-purpose High Dam for flood control because the dam is proposed to tap the hydro-power potential. The multiple purposes (irrigation, power-generation, flood-control, etc) are conflict ridden because objectives of flood-control, irrigation and power-generation would require opposite functions from the reservoir. This is ignored since well-entrenched beneficiaries across political lines have an incestuous relationship with the structural solutions like embankments, dams and their victims that prevents rational vulnerability assessment based interventions to remove the impediments to the drainage of the ecological flow of water. 

All endeavours at course correction at this stage must take into account how did the transformation of flood dependent agrarian regimes into flood vulnerable landscapes took place since it was primarily driven by the need to secure private property in land, which was a key concern of the colonial powers. It `soon disrupted natural flow regimes and ended up aggravating flood lines and thereby opening up the deltas to enhanced flood vulnerability; Constructed a network of roads, railway lines, and bridges, which by running in the east- west direction ended up interrupting natural drainage lines that mostly dropped from north to south! These structures, in time, not unexpectedly, began to unsettle a complex and fragile arrangement for drainage. Thus, north Bihar has been deprived of the most fertile land in the world. The Royal Commission of Agriculture had blamed lack of adequate drainage for it. Traditional systems made the agricultural districts of north Bihar Ganga basin prosperous in the early part of the 19th century. The neglect of that system over the years led to the area being impoverished by the late 19th century. 

There is a compelling logic behind seeking immediate review of Indo-Nepal Kosi Treaty that created the rationale for embankments and dams. Continuing with it would tantamount to riding a dead horse. The treaty must acknowledge that technology can only help create irreparable problems. If technology is indeed the answer, surly the technologists have got their questions wrong. Drainage congestion in North Bihar and Nepal is the question that has remained overlooked for several decades.
The litmus test for a sane, credible, fair and democratic treaty lies in providing treatment for permanent water-logging that has come to characterize the Kosi region.

Floods or Earthquakes or hurricanes or tornadoes or tsunamis cannot be controlled. But the catastrophe they can cause be predicted, anticipated and preventable. If that is the case the best flood proofing mechanism since times immemorial is rely on simple truths and beware of the law of unintended consequences. The simple truths being drainage of the river must remain sacrosanct come what may besides early preparedness, timely evacuation of human and animal population and establishment of robust public health system.   
Given its distinct geo-morphological features and complicated hydrological characters,  Kosi is one of the Himalayan rivers that has yet to be understood in its entirety. There is no substitute of reversing the past policies, as is being done world over to combat adverse planetary changes. Land use changes such those attempted in the past and those proposed are acknowledged to be significant contributor to it. It is high time policy makers gave up their outdated "conquest over nature" paradigm and acknowledge "we shall have to learn to live with floods". 

Instead of pretending to be surprised by river's natural functions, scientific logic of water cycle creates a compulsion for re-visiting the Kosi Agreement to factor in fragility of Himalayan watershed, Ganga Basin Master Plan, decommissioning of numerous dams in Europe, South America, USA, and China and the UN report "Aging Water Infrastructure: An Emerging Global Risk".

Besides recognising the rights and duties of the riparian parties, the revised legal agreement will have to ensure that the natural right of the river  is recognized the way it has been done in rights of rivers Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, Ecuador, New Zealand, Uganda, Canada, Northern Ireland and Bangladesh. Unless primacy is accorded to the legal rights of Kosi river, human suffering due to drainage crisis will remain a permanent feature of the river basin as an outcome of a myopic and misplaced "temporary" engineering "solution". 
Dr. Gopal Krishna
The author is Co-author, Report of Peoples' Commission on Kosi River Basin (February 2023), Member, Peoples' Commission on Kosi River Basin (2022), Co-author, Kosi Deluge: The Worst is Still to Come (September 2008), Member, Fact Fact Finding Mission on Kosi River Basin (March 2008) and Co-author, Disputes Over Ganga (2004)

Friday, February 24, 2023

कोसी-मेची नदी परियोजना सहित सभी नदी जोड़ परियोजनाए अवैज्ञानिक व जल चक्र विरोधी है : कोसी जन आयोग रिपोर्ट

(फोटो में: कामरेड केडी यादव,  डॉ. नरेन्द्र पाठक, भाकपा माले के विधायक संदीप सौरभ, डॉ. गोपाल कृष्ण, मेधा पाटकर, कांग्रेस के विधायक संदीप सिन्हा, अरशद अजमल, राहुल यादुका, महेंद्र यादव)

कोसी जन आयोग द्वारा कोसी के सवालों पर 24 फ़रवरी को पटना के ए. एन. सिन्हा इंस्टिट्यूट के सभागार में कोसी जन अधिवेशन का आयोजन किया गया जिसमें आयोग की कोसी क्षेत्र की वर्तमान स्थिति और समाधान पर रिपोर्ट जारी की गयी।  विश्व बांध आयोग की आयुक्त रह चुकी जन आंदोलनो की नेता और कोसी जन आयोग की सदस्य मेधा पाटकर ने कहा कि जब हम नदियों को माँ मानते है तो उसके साथ विकास के नाम पर क्रूर व्यवहार क्यों करते है? उन्होंने कहा कि आपदा आने पर लोग पूछते है कि यह आपदाएं प्राकृतिक है या मानव निर्मित है जबकि असल में ये आपदाएं शासन निर्मित होती । उन्होंने कोसी नदी, बाढ़, विस्थापन वहां के तटबन्ध के भीतर और बाहर के लोगों के सवालों को लेकर बनी रिपोर्ट की अनुशंसाओं को लागू करने की बात उठाई। धँसते जोशी मठ और दरकते हिमालय की घटना का जिक्र करते हुए उन्होंने सरकारों को विकास की गलत अवधारणा की चर्चा भी की। मेधा पाटेकर ने जल-जंगल-जमीन, खनिज संपदा और कोसी की समस्या समाधान करने हेतु सरकार एवं विधायकों से विधानसभा में सवाल उठाकर ठोस नीति बनाने की अपील की। उन्होंने कहा कि यदि सितम्बर तक सरकार इस पर ठोस कार्रवाई नही करती है तो कोसी के लोग पैदल चलकर राजधानी में डेरा डालने आएंगे।

कोसी जन आयोग के सदस्य, पर्यावरणविद् व न्यायशास्त्री डॉ. गोपाल कृष्ण ने रिपोर्ट में कोसी की समस्यायों के विवरण और समाधान के लिए सुझाए गए मार्ग का जिक्र किया।  पटना हाई कोर्ट और सुप्रीम कोर्ट के नदी जोड़ने के संदर्भ मे दिए गए आदेशों को अवैज्ञानिक और जल चक्र विरोधी बताया। कोसी हाई डैम और नदी जोड़ जैसी परियोजना उस दौर की है जब जलवायु संकट की वैज्ञानिक समझ का अभाव था। आज के युग मे दुनिया भर में हजारों बड़े बाधों को नदियों की अविरलता और निर्मलता के लिए हटाया जा रहा है। सरकार को उससे सबक लेना चाहिए। उन्होन याद दिलाया कि 1937 में हुए पटना बाढ़ सम्मेलन में तत्कालिन मुख्य अभियंता जी एच हॉल तटबंध की तीन सीमाओं का रेखांकित किया था। रिपोर्ट का हिंदी संस्करण 48 पृष्ठ का है। इसके पृष्ठ संख्या 32 पर लिखा है: "बिहार सरकार के मेची नदी को कोसी नदी से जोड़ने की परियोजना है। मेची और महानंदा नदियों से जोड़ने के लिए कोसी मुख्य नहर से तनमाटर् का प्रस्ताव है। इसे सिंचाई के साथ-साथ कोसी की बाढ़ के समाधान के रूप  में प्रचारित किया गया हैं। हकीकत में न तो सिंचाई हो सकेगी और न ही बाढ़ की कमी पर कोई असर पड़ेगा। ये सभी नदियां एक ही मौसम में उफान पर आ जाती हैं और बाढ़ आ जाती है। बाढ़ के मौसम में बाढ़ के पानी को मोड़कर कम करने का दावा तथ्य की कसौटी पर खरा नहीं उतरता। इसके गंभीर पारिस्थिक परिणाम भी होंगे। कोसी कुछ महत्वपूर्ण जैव विवधता का घर है, जिसमे लगभग 300 गंगा नदी डॉलफिन, कई जल पक्षी प्रजातियां, कछुए और एक छोटी घड़ियाल की आबादी शामिल  है। घाघरा नदी को कोसी नदी के जलग्रहण क्षेत्र में भी स्थान्तरित करने के प्रस्ताव पर चर्चा चल रही है। जल संसाधन कायों की राजनीतिक अर्थव्यवस्था नदी जोड़ो परियोजनाओं को चलाती हैं। यह बिहार की राजनीतिक अर्थव्यवस्था का एक आवश्यक घटक है"। आयोग की रिपोर्ट का अंग्रेजी संस्करण 33 पृष्ठ का है।  शोधार्थी राहुल यादुका ने कोसी जन आयोग रिपोर्ट की सभी पहलुओं को बयान किया। रिपोर्ट कोसी नदी और बाढ़ नियंत्रण की यात्रा, कोसी परियोजना का मूल्यांकन आदि विषयों के संदर्भ में सुझाव प्रस्तुत करती है 

अधिवेशन को संबोधित करते हुए भाकपा माले के विधायक संदीप सौरभ ने 1937 में हुए पटना बाढ़ सम्मेलन के हवाले से बताया कि तटबंध बाढ़ से होने वाले नुकसान को बढ़ाते है। वे समस्या को एक स्थान से दूसरे स्थान पर स्थान्तरित करते है और तटबंध झूठी सुरक्षा की भावना पैदा करते है। कोसी जन आयोग रिपोर्ट के मुद्दे को विधानसभा में उठाने की बात कही।

कांग्रेस के विधायक संदीप सिन्हा ने कहा कि कोसी पीपुल्स कमीशन द्वारा जमीनी अध्ययन के आलोक में प्रस्तुत एवं पारित प्रतिवेदन के मुद्दे को विधानसभा में मजबूती से उठाएंगे। (फोटो में: संदीप सिन्हा, डॉ. विद्यार्थी विकास, के.डी. यादव, डॉ. नरेन्द्र पाठक, संदीप सौरभ, डॉ. गोपाल कृष्ण, मेधा पाटकर, राजेंद्र रवि, महेंद्र यादव)

भाकपा माले की केंद्रीय कमिटी के सदस्य व वरिष्ठ नेता के.डी. यादव ने कोसी के लोगो के संघर्षों के साथ एकता का इजहार किया।

जगजीवन राम शोध संस्थान के निदेशक डॉ. नरेन्द्र पाठक ने रिपोर्ट में कोसी के लोगों के उठाए सवालों की चर्चा की।

ए एन सिन्हा इंस्टिट्यूट के सहायक प्रोफेसर डॉ. विद्यार्थी विकास ने कहा कि सरकार को अलग से कोशी के लिए बजट बनाने के अलावे विधान सभा में अलग से कमिटी बनानी चाहिए जिससे इस मुद्दे पर सतत कार्यक्रम चल सके।

कार्यक्रम की अध्यक्षता पर्यावरणविद राजेंद्र रवि एवं मंच संचालन कोसी नवनिर्माण मंच के संस्थापक महेंद्र यादव ने किया।

अधिवेशन की शुरुआत बाढ़ पीडित बृजेंद्र यादव द्वारा जनगीत प्रस्तुति से प्रारंभ हुई।

कोसी क्षेत्र के रामचन्द्र यादव, इंद्र नारायण सिंह, प्रियंका कुमारी, चन्द्रबीर यादव, राजू खान, रोहित ऋषदेव ने कोसी के तटबन्ध के बीच और बाहर की अपनी अपनी समस्यायों व पीड़ा बताते हुए जन आयोग  की प्रक्रिया व रिपोर्ट में उनकी बातें आने पर एकता कायम की।

इस मौके पर पूर्व शिक्षा पदाधिकारी विनोदानंद झा, समाजिक कार्यकर्ता चेतना त्रिपाठी, देश बचाओ अभियान फरकिया मिशन के संस्थापक अध्यक्ष किरण देव यादव, लेखक पुष्पराज, पत्रकार अमरनाथ झा, सविता सीटू तिवारी, विनोद कुमार, कनिष्का, सैफ खान, दिलीप झा, ज्ञानेश कुमार, प्रियतम मुखिया, रिंकी कुमारी, कुमुद रानी, सन्तोष मुखिया, श्रवण, धर्मेन्द्र, मनीष, मनोज, रमन, अखलेस,जहिब अजमल, किरनदीप, बीरेन्द्र प्रभात, एडवोकेट मणिलाल आदि उपस्थित थे।

 (फोटो में: इं.गजानन मिश्र, डॉ. गोपाल कृष्ण, मेधा पाटकर व राजेंद्र रवि) इससे पहले 23 फ़रवरी को पटना में कोसी पीपुल्स कमीशन द्वारा प्रस्तुत रिपोर्ट को कोसी जन अधिवेशन में  सर्वसम्मति से पारित  गया।