Direction given to stop hill-cutting for construction of a resort-cum-hotel at Lonavala

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Case Law: NAB Lions Home for Aging Blind v. Kumar Resorts, 2015 SCC OnLine NGT 6

NGT has given another order in response to its strict-no-policy to deforestation. NGT while restraining Kumar Resorts, Amusement Pvt. Ltd. and Dhiraj Kumar Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. from hill-cutting for constructing a resort-cum hotel on a hill top at Lonavala, NGT also directed the developers to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the National Association for the Blind’s (NAB) welfare home.

The said developers were constructing a resort-cum-hotel on a hill top at Lonavala and were allegedly causing environmental degradation and also endangering property of a welfare home for ageing blind located adjacent to the construction site.

The Tribunal’s order came on an application filed by Lonavala-based NAB Lions Home for Aging Blind against the leading resort and Amusement Company. It was alleged in the application that Kumar Resorts acquired the adjoining plot on eastern side of the welfare home and the developers intended to construct a resort and a big hotel at the hilltop. It was further alleged that leveling of land by flattening of the hill area and cutting of trees by the developers could lead to soil erosion, landslides/mudslides, which posed a threat of damage to the welfare home property and the lives of its residents.

During the course of proceedings, NGT appointed an expert committee, which found the claims to be true. “The expert committee perused record of rights and other records. The committee came to the conclusion that the hill has been privately and clandestinely cut and, therefore, prime concern now is prevention of landslides/mudslides,” the Tribunal observed. While awarding the compensation, Tribunal also warned the developers of sealing and selling off their premises if they fail to make the payment within the stipulated period. “The Revenue Officers like Collector and Commissioner, may call report from the local Municipal Council of Khandala and Lonavala and like places such as Satara, Kolhapur etc. where existence of hills ordinarily are noticeable in order to avoid instances of hill-cutting, being undertaken under guise of obtaining extraction permission for minor mineral and direct them not to issue permissions for construction on top of the hills, except for Bamboo huts/cottages.

Compensation of Rs. 5 lakh awarded for failure of doctors to diagnose Foetal anomalies. NCDRC has awarded a compensation of Rs.5 lakh to the wife of Armed Forces personnel, who delivered a girl suffering from deformities which need supervision throughout the life, due to the negligence and deficient services of the doctors of Army Hospital and Base Hospital at Delhi Cantonment.

During her pregnancy, the Complainant took regular check-ups in the Army Hospital and it was informed that the foetus was well developed. It was at the later stage that the complainant got to know about the anomalies when she suffered paid and doctor performed ultrasound.

Alleging deficiency in service and for the negligence caused by the doctors at Base Hospital and Army Hospital, Complainant approached District Forum which allowed the complaint and directed Base Hospital and Army Hospital to pay Rs.5 lakh as compensation to the complainant along with Rs.5,000/- as costs. In appeal, State Commission decided in favor of Base Hospital and Army Hospital and dismissed the complaint. After perusal of relevant documents, including the medical record of the Complainant, Commission noted that failure to diagnose the obvious foetal anomalies in 12th, 14th and 21st weeks of gestation by the doctors of Base Hospital and Army Hospital indicate that there was a breach in duty, as the doctors had not exercised their reasonable degree of skill and care.

A Bench of the Commission, comprising Justice J.M. Malik and S.M. Kantikar, observed that patients expected a higher degree of skill and standard of care from the Army Hospital, which was known to be one of the best specialised medical centres in the country with high standard and qualitative diagnostic approach.

“In the instant case, it was lacking,” said the Bench, while modifying an order of the Delhi State Consumer Commission, and directed the two hospitals to pay Rs.5 lakh as compensation and Rs.5,000 as litigation charges to Ms. Srivastava.

Also, the Bench said the doctors should be have been more careful, as they were aware that the patient was 32-year-old and her first pregnancy had resulted in miscarriage. A delay or failure to diagnose spina bifida could cause unnecessary pain and suffering for the pregnant mother and result in an unwanted birth, it said.

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