The Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday ordered a temporary stay on Adani Group’s joint solar energy power project with the state government to build a 1,500 megawatt solar energy park near Pokhran in Jaisalmer, PTI reported. This came after local farmers challenged the allocation of nearly 990 hectares of agricultural land to billionaire Gautam Adani’s business house for the project.

The division bench of Justices Sangeet Lodha and Rameshwar Vyas ordered a status quo on the solar project and issued notices to Rajasthan government and Adani Renewable Energy Park Rajasthan Limited. The matter will be heard next on September 29 after the state government’s counsel sought two weeks time to file a reply to the farmers’ petition.

In November last year, a single-judge bench had dismissed the petition and allowed the project to continue. The farmers challenged the verdict and questioned the allotment of the agricultural land after changing it to a barren one, said the petitioners’ counsel Moti Singh Rajpurohit. “We have argued that as per the Rajasthan Land Revenue Rules 2007, the land could be allotted only to Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation or Rajasthan Solar Park Development Corporation and not to any private player or investor directly,” Rajpurohit added. “As per the allotment rules, a land reserved for some purpose and that too cultivable, could not be allotted for any other purpose.”

The petitioners also challenged the allotment of the land arguing that it will have a fatal impact on the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard, the state bird of Rajasthan.

In 2018, the Rajasthan government allocated a total of 6,115 bighas (989.50 hectares) land in Nedan village of Pokhran tehsil for the solar energy power project at the cost of Rs 13.48 crore.