"Unemployment leads to crime", the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday while directing civic authorities in Maharashtra to mull over providing alternative livelihood options for those who have been barred from plying horse carts at eco-sensitive famous tourist spot Table Land in Panchagani.
The top court was hearing the plea of several horse cart owners of Panchagani who have been restrained by the Bombay High Court from plying on the main 80 acre tableland, second biggest after Cape Town in South Africa.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said, "We are taking this livelihood arguments quite seriously. The people will lose their livelihood and this aspect needed to be looked into quite seriously".
The bench, however, did not agree to the vehement submission of lead petitioner Amit Kishan Bagde and others that the horse cart owners be allowed to ply carts on motorable roads on the main Table Land at Panchagani as their present area of operation was on the slope where tourists are not attracted to come for ride.
"At this juncture, considering the topography, we are of the view that there was no error in the High Court order prohibiting the plying of horse carts on the Table Land..," the bench said.
However, the bench took note of the submission of loss of livelihood of the horse cart owners and asked the Municipal body of Panchagani to set out a plan for levelling the 20 acre land, which is not plain, near the table land for smooth and accident free plying of horse carts.
To make the inclined land motorable for horse carts, the civic body can consider levying cess, the bench said, adding that the authorities can also "consider providing alternative livelihood options to the horse cart owners either by formulating schemes for purchase of taxis or allotment of shop area at a suitable place..."
The bench asked the civic body to give a report to the court after six weeks on these aspects saying "unemployment leads to crime".
The bench also asked senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Bombay Environmental Action Group which had moved the High Court, to also suggest measures on alternate livelihood options to the affected horse cart owners.
Earlier, the Bombay High Court had refused to allow riding of horse carts on a portion of land at the famous tourist spot, Table Land at Panchgani.
The horse carts association had moved the application in HC seeking permission to ply at the northern side of the Table Land as it is much larger than the southern side and is far more scenic.
Horse buggies and horses were banned from riding on the ecologically sensitive declared northern side of the Panchgani Table Land, after orders were passed by the High court in 2006.
The high court had then also suggested several measures be implemented such as putting up barricades to prevent entry of any vehicles on the Table Land, and restraining putting up of shops on the plateau.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)