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The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited v/s Century Textiles And Industries Limited

Factual Background
  1. Present appeal filed has been filed by Century Textiles & Industries Limited (will be referred to as writ petitioner) against the order dated August 02, 2010 passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh (impugned order) in favour of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited as the (will be referred to as Power Grid).
     
  2. The writ petitioner was granted a mining lease in 2002 by the Chhattisgarh government for mining limestone. At the time when the aforesaid mining lease was executed in favour of the writ petitioner, there existed a transmission line outside the boundary of the existing mining site.
  3. The Power Grid had to lay the transmission lines parallel to the existing lines to erect towers for laying of the said transmission lines.
  4. For this, a notice was sent to the writ petitioner which was denied by him on the count that the Power lines with high tension electricity, would force the writ petitioner to stop mining in the area nearby the proposed towers as it would not be able to do any blasting for the purpose of mining. The Single bench of the High Court ruled in the favour of the Power Grid and the same was overturned by the Division bench of the same High Court, hence this appeal.

Issues Involved
The issues involved in the Appeal were:
  1. What are the powers acquired by a Power Grid under the Telegraph Act, 1885?

Submissions
The parties, inter-alia, made the following submissions:
  1. Writ Petitioner's submission
    1. That if the towers are allowed to be erected on the land covered by the mining lease, the writ petitioner would be precluded from carrying out mining over the adjacent area of towers of 500 mts. and it would seriously jeopardise the operations of the writ petitioner.
    2. It was contended that the mining area carries reserve of 10 million tonnes of limestone which is needed for manufacture of cement in the cement plant of the writ petitioner.
  2. Power Grid's Submission
    1. That majority of the eighty five percent of the laying work has already been completed. Out of 400 towers to be erected, 390 towers have already been erected.
    2. That the 2002 lease by the petitioner was without obtaining clearance certificate from the Electrical Inspector. The map submitted by the writ petitioner for obtaining mining lease was submitted without showing the existence of Korba-Raipur transmission line established by the Power Grid in the year 1999.
 Findings
After analysing the submissions of the parties in context of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Hon'ble Supreme Court, inter-alia, held as under:
  1. That the transmission project is of national importance as it is going to benefit public at large, not only in the State of Chhattisgarh but various other States through which the aforesaid transmission line passes through.[1]
     
  2. That the Power Grid Authority under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, acquires all such powers which are vested in a Telegraph Authority including power to eliminate any obstruction in the laying down of power transmission lines. As per the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, unobstructed access to lay down telegraph and/or electricity transmission lines is an imperative in the larger public interest.[2]
     
  3. The legislature has not permitted any kind of impediment/ obstruction in achieving this objective and through the scheme of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 empowering the licensee to lay telegraph lines, applied the same, as it is, for laying down the electricity transmission lines. [3]

That electricity transmission is usually laid or crossed over agricultural land where minimum extent of land gets utilised for erecting towers and where agricultural activities are not prejudiced/obstructed in any manner. The purpose is to avoid buildings, religious places, ponds etc. while laying down these transmission lines. It is only when it becomes inevitable that towers are placed on the private lines to the minimum and least extent possible.[4]

End-Notes:
  1. Para 13 @ Pg. 4 of the Judgment.
  2. Para 20 @ Pg. 5 of the Judgment.
  3. Para 20 @ Pg. 5&6 of the Judgment.
  4. Para 24 @ Pg. 7 of the Judgment.

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