HYDERABAD: In a significant judgment, the Telangana High Court (HC) has held that unmarried adults of families displaced by the Kondapochamma Sagar reservoir are entitled to the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) benefits under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, on par with the married ones. While setting aside the impugned GO, a division bench of the HC directed the State government to pay the benefits within six weeks to the petitioners. It also imposed costs on the government of `5,000, payable to each of the petitioners within the stipulated time period.
The bench, comprising Justices MS Ramachandra Rao and K Lakshman, passed this order recently in a petition filed by Y Babulu and 24 other unmarried adults of families whose houses at Mamidyala village of Mulugu mandal in Siddipet district were acquired for the Kondapochamma Sagar reservoir. The project is part of the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme.
According to the petitioners’ counsel, Ch Ravi Kumar, there are no livelihood opportunities for them in the village after their farmlands were acquired. They hope that the government gives them proper R&R benefits as per the provisions of the Act 30 of 2013 so that they can relocate to a new place and begin a new life. Prior to the acquisition, the petitioners used to work on their parents or others’ land and contribute to their families’ income.
HC calls TS govt’s decision arbitrary
The decision of the government that displaced unmarried adults would be given Rs 5 lakh and a plot of 250 sq yards, but not a full fledged rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package which was given to married adults, is discriminatory. Displaced married persons received a double bedroom house on a 250 square-yard plot in the RR Colony along with Rs 7.5 lakh.
The government, vide GO 78 dated April 16, 2019, stated that the project displaced families living together would be given Rs 12.54 lakh each (Rs 7.5 lakh entitlement plus Rs 5.04 lakh in lieu of a 2BHK house). In such families, those who have crossed 18 years of age, would be paid Rs 5 lakh and given a 250 square-yard plot only.
After hearing the case and perusing the material on record, the bench termed the government’s decision as arbitrary, illegal and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and provisions of the Act 30 of 2013 as amended by Act 21 of 2017. While declaring that the petitioners are entitled for the said benefits on par with married adults, the bench directed the authorities concerned not to insist the petitioners’ parents to return the R&R entitlements on the pretext that their children (petitioners) are also being given equal benefits. The bench has set aside GO 78, saying it discriminates between married members of project displaced families and unmarried ones in the matter of payment of R&R benefits.