In Court

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

hope of deliverance: The Supreme Court has asked the Union government to implement an action plan to rehabilitate subsidence-affected people around the Raniganj and Jharia coalfields in West Bengal and Jharkhand, respectively. It also directed the authorities to table a report within two months about the steps they have taken.

The order was passed on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by Haradhan Roy, former member of parliament from Asansol and vice-president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions' coalmine workers' federation. The PIL charged the Centre with endangering the lives of over four lakh residents of the coal belt through its apathetic attitude. Chief Justice V N Khare, who headed the division bench, observed that underground fire had aggravated the problem of subsidence in the coalfields. Roy said the West Bengal government had sought about Rs 1,665 crore, in two phases, from the Centre for solving the problem.

tug of war: A lawyer in Venezuela has challenged President Hugo Chavez's decision to allow foreign companies to drill for oil and gas in Essequibo -- a region disputed with Guyana -- in the country's Supreme Court. The petitioner has described the move as a violation of Venezuela's sovereignty.

The two South American neighbours have laid claims over Essequibo for decades. Venezuela has refused to recognise an 1899 treaty giving the then British Guyana suzerainty over this 160,000-square-kilometre swathe of land rich in gold, bauxite, diamonds and oil.

The dispute had prevented companies from carrying out oil exploration in the region. But during a visit to Guyana, Chavez said Venezuela would not stop its neighbour from developing Essequibo. Venezuela's information minister, Jesse Chacon, said this would strengthen bilateral ties. Those opposed to the move have, however, severely criticised Chavez for compromising Venezuela's development priorities in the mineral-rich region.

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