in Environmental Law
Asked June 17, 2015

Compensation by government in case of delay in completion of Projects

  • 1 Answer

There are so many government projects that get delayed nowadays. None of them seem to meet the 4-5 year deadline that are set at the commencement of the project. Can the residents claim compensation from the government for continuing to inconvenience their daily life (like, not being able to park cars, continuing to live in under-construction sites, being subjected to the constant noise that accompanies most infrastructural work, etc) beyond the period that was originally set?

Answer 1

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Anina D'cunha
Government construction project delays result mainly due to government’s failure to pay contractors and due to the delay in acquiring land. Though these delays are common, there are no precise laws which deal with compensation to be paid to residents for inconvenience caused to them. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees life and personal liberty to all persons. It guarantees a right of persons to life with human dignity. Article 300 (1) provides that the Government of India may be sued in relation to its affairs. Hence, a case can be filed against the government, by means of a writ, to seek compensation or put an end to major inconveniences. A criminal case can also be filed against the State Government under Section 268 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines public nuisance. Nuisance is not excused on the ground that it causes some convenience or advantage. Public nuisance is punishable with fine. [1] Public nuisance is only one action, otherwise this could give rise to many cases. For example, a person uses a certain corner of a part of a residential area for dumping garbage, without having it cleared away, causing nuisance to the surrounding residents. If each of the residents were to file separate cases against the person, there would be many cases dealing with the same nuisance, instead of filing just one case and speeding up justice. Even an individual may have a private right of action against a public nuisance in certain circumstances, if he can show that s/he has suffered some damage more than what the general public had to suffer, or prove that the injury is of a substantial character. [2] Magisterial courts have the power to issue order to remove or abate nuisance caused by noise pollution. [3] A civil suit can also be filed claiming compensation for the nuisance. For filing a suit one must show that there should be reasonable interference with the use & enjoyment of land. Actual damage is also required to be proved. [4] Although they often exceed the set deadline, government projects are said to be undertaken for “public purpose” and the government does not usually provide compensation to residents of the area, except to those from whom the land has been acquired. [4] References: [1] Available at < http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/nuisance-a-tort-825-1.html> [2] Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, The Law of Torts, 26th  Ed., Lexis Nexis (2013), p. 117 [3] Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code [4] Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, The Law of Torts, 26th  Ed., Lexis Nexis (2013), p. 143 [5] Available at <http://rural.nic.in/netrural/rural/index.aspx>
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