In Court

Published: Thursday 15 April 2004

row-ridden project: A Hong Kong court has cleared a huge reclamation project in the city's Victoria Harbour despite activists pointing out that the venture could destroy the world-famous waterway. The court ruling is being construed as a victory for local leader Tung Chee-hwa, who had backed the 18-hectare (ha) project.

While giving the go-ahead, Judge Michael Hartmann observed: "I am unable to say that the Chief Executive (Tung) in this case stepped outside of the borders of his executive discretion.... The application for judicial review must be refused." Meanwhile, the Society for Harbour Protection, which had brought the case to court, said it would seek legal advice on whether the case should be taken to the Court of Appeal.

For its part, the government has promised that there would be no more reclamation on the harbour apart from the projects off Central, Wanchai and southeast Kowloon.

forest panel dispute: Over 13 gram panchayats in Punjab have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC), challenging the formation of forest protection committees in their villages.

They contend that the member of the Punjab legislative assembly from Pathankot, Ashok Sharma, and a divisional forest officer have diverted public funds under the garb of setting up these panels. According to the petitioners, the committees were formed in violation of the Punjab Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, since the village bodies were not consulted.

However, Sharma told Down To Earth that the panchayats wanted to control the funds directly though these panels were formed as part of the village development committee. The entire scheme is being funded by the World Bank to conserve forests and create awareness about the issue among local people. The case is being heard by a division bench of the HC, headed by Chief Justice B K Roy. It has issued a notice to the Punjab government.

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