Tuesday, Sep 24, 2002
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By J. Venkatesan
A three-Judge Bench, comprising the Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat, said that the punitive damages of Rs. 1 crore for `dereliction of duty' would form part of a Rs. 5 crores corpus fund to restore the ecology.
The Bench said that it was unfortunate that such large-scale vandalism had taken place in the State and yet no action had been taken to check the same. A message must go to all the States that they had a responsibility to protect the environment and be made accountable for dereliction of duty in this regard.
It had taken a serious view of the advertisements painted by several companies, viz. MBD Books (78), Coca-cola (44) Pepsi (8) and Birla White (10) and others on the rock faces on both sides of the road from Rohtang to Manali.
The Bench, which examined the report of the expert committee, asked the Solicitor-General and amicus curiae in the case, Harish Salve, to indicate by September 26 the quantum of punitive damages to be imposed on these companies.
It also issued notice to the Advocate-General of the Karnataka Government as the expert committee had pointed out that similar advertisements were painted by various companies near Bangalore city. Notice was also ordered to be issued to these companies.
In its report, the committee, which had already taken a video film of the entire area, had said that natural rocks/boulders which had been damaged by chiselling and grinding (for the purpose of removing the advertisements) could not be restored to its original condition.
It further said that the Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage had agreed to undertake the restoration work by using environment-friendly technology through its technical division, the Indian Council of Conservation Institute, and the total expenditure was estimated around Rs. 1.78 crores.
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