The Supreme Court on Monday advised six shop-owners whose establishments fell on Varanasi's proposed Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, an ambitious project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and were to be demolished, to engage with the Uttar Pradesh government for adequate compensation.
The six shop-owners, having total area less than 100 square metres, filed a plea in the court seeking fair compensation against the demolition of their premises falling on the corridor.
Earlier, the Allahabad High Court had dismissed a batch of petitions, virtually stalling the project, filed against the demolition.
Senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted before a vacation bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant that the government is willing to resolve any dispute amicably in connection with demolition.
"The high court had already dismissed the petitions. The project is about 47,000 square metres, and the petitioners' premises in question is merely 100 square meter. How could they be allowed to stall the project?" he contended Gupta before the bench.
Noting nearly 90 per cent of the buildings located on the corridor been already demolished, Gupta also told the court that while hearing this case, the high court had asked petitioners to file a civil complaint instead of the writ petition.
In May, a division bench of the high court had rejected the petitions filed by some house-owners, shop tenants and the Carmichel Library Association Gyanvapi challenging the project. The residents alleged that the corridor would affect their livelihood and genuinely jeopardize their families' income.
In February, the state government acquired 26 shops in Carmichel Library building, and government and the temple trust have already acquired many properties to acquire land for the corridor.
As the apex court observed that the rule of law shall prevail and the interest of the shop-owners shall be protected, Gupta told the court that the state government is willing to settle the issue with the petitioners on similar terms as other tenants.
"We are willing to engage, but the project cannot be brought to a standstill because of the petitioners," he contended.
The court then asked the shop-owners and the UP government to engage with each other and amicably settle the issue.
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