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SC slams Rajasthan for displaying 'helplessness' in widening NHAI expressway

The Supreme Court today chided the Rajasthan government for displaying “state of helplessness” in carrying out a high court direction to facilitate widening of the Delhi-Jaipur highway.

The widening of the highway is held up due to a ‘bavadi’ (stepwell) and ‘samadhi’ (memorial of Baba Balnath.

The Rajasthan High Court had ordered removal of the ‘bavadi’ which was dry and shrinking of the ‘samadhi’ area for the road widening work being done by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

“A major part of the national highway is complete...Now do you want it should be held up,” asked the apex court vacation bench of Justice Prafulla C Pant and Justice Amitava Roy.

It asked the Rajasthan government to approach the state high court if it thought it has case of revisiting the court’s May 19, 2015, directions.

“Is the state in a state of helplessness now,” observed Justice Amitava Roy, saying that “state should help NHAI to complete the project. Instead of facilitating the project, you are creating hindrances.”

The court said this as it dismissed plea by the Rajasthan government which questioned the two directions of the high court for removal of the ‘bavadi’ and shrinking the space around the ‘samadhi’ that were coming in the way of the widening the Delhi-Jaipur highway.

As senior counsel Pallav Shishodia tried to impress upon the court the significance of the ‘bavadi’ as a source of water for people living around it and the lakhs of people visiting the ‘samadhi’, the court said: “We think the better course will be to make further endeavour and efforts to persuade the high court. You can’t expect us to find faults with the high court reasoning.”

The Rajasthan High Court by its May 19, 2015, order rejected the state government plea to construct a road overbridge or an underpass to save the ‘bavadi’ and the ‘samadhi’.

It said: “The ‘bavadi’, which is said to be 25m X 10 in dimension and 20 ft deep, and for which there is no report in last several decades that it was ever filled with water, must be removed. No further dispute with regard to ‘bavadi’ will be entertained.”

The court further ordered that an extra-wide service road be constructed beyond the ‘samadhi’ by minimising the samadhi area.

The high court said there was no need to construct a road overbridge or an underpass.

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