SC agrees to list plea related to Gaggal Airport expansion Project in HP’s Kangra

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to list for hearing a plea related to the Gaggal airport expansion project in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district.

The top court had on January 22 stayed a January 9 Himachal Pradesh High Court order that had stalled the project.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submission of a lawyer that the matter may not come up for hearing on Tuesday if a Constitution bench assembles and takes up other listed matters for February 27.

“We will then list the matters (relating to the Gaggal airport expansion project) either on Friday (March 1) or on Monday (March 4),” the bench said.

The Himachal Pradesh High Court, while taking note of a plea filed by some members of the Gaggal Airport Expansion Affected Society Welfare Committee, had stayed the airport expansion project.

The high court had ordered a status quo till February 29, the next date of hearing, on all aspects of the matter, including the relief and rehabilitation process, taking possession of the land notified for acquisition and the demolition of structures on it.

The top court took note of the submissions of the Himachal Pradesh government, the Airports Authority of India and the National Highways Authority of India and stayed the operation of the high court order.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the government authorities, said of the three airports in Himachal Pradesh, the one in Kangra was the only facility where expansion is a possibility.

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He said the high court order has stalled everything despite the advocate general making a statement that neither will any demolition take place nor will anyone be dispossessed.

“We will issue the notice and stay the Himachal Pradesh High Court order,” the bench said, adding that the high court, however, could proceed to decide with the pending petition.

The plea before the high court had said that since the government was reconsidering the matter, it would not be proper to permit the state to proceed with taking possession of the land notified for acquisition or demolish structures on it or proceed with the relief and rehabilitation process.

“There is a possibility that the state government may revisit its own decision to proceed with the expansion of the Gaggal airport after examining all aspects of the matter. In such an event, there is every possibility of time and expenses spent on the hearing on relief and rehabilitation going (to) waste,” the high court observed on January 9 while staying the project.

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