New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today stopped construction of a proposed high-end Rs 1,275 crore residential project promoted by the Tata Housing Development Company in the vicinity of the Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh holding that it falls within eco-sensitive catchment area.
Tata Camelot Housing Project spread on 52.66 acres of land near the Chandigarh Capitol Complex featured 19 towers ranging between 7 and 28 storeys.
The project was proposed to be carried on the land which was originally alloted to the ‘Punjab MLA Society’ for construction of residential houses of MLAs of Punjab Legislature.
Subsequently, the land was sold to Hash Builders Private Limited with an understanding that each member of the ‘Punjab MLA Society’ would be allotted one flat each.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw held that the environmental clearance given for the housing project was not in “conformity with the mandatory requirements of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)”.
It said the map of Survey of India demarcating boundaries of the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake is binding on the Punjab government.
“In turn, Tata Housing Development Company Ltd (HDCL) is also bound by the same. The area over which the project in question is proposed to be constructed by Tata HDCL forms part of the catchment area of Sukhna Lake as demarcated in the Survey of India map dated September 21, 2004,” the bench noted.
The high court order came on a plea filed by the Sarin Memorial Legal Aid Foundation and advocate Aalok Jagga against the grant of approval by various authorities to the Tata housing project near the Lake, which was expected to cater to high-profile people.
The Supreme Court had earlier stayed the ambitious housing project which was given clearance by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Later, the apex court had transferred the plea to the Delhi High Court.
The project falls in the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake.
The bench said the permission for the project, granted by the gram panchayat of Sukhna catchment area village, is set aside.
“The permission dated July 5, 2013 granted by Nagar Panchayat Naya Gaon to Tata HDCL is invalid and is hereby set aside. We, therefore, direct the State of Punjab to reconsider the matter in the light of this judgement.
“The Environmental Clearance dated September 17, 2013 granted by State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) Punjab for development of the project proposed by Tata HDCL is not in conformity with notification dated September 14, 2006 of MoEF and therefore, the same shall stand set aside,” the bench said.
It further said that if re-consideration by the Punjab government as directed by the court is in favour of Tata, then the company may apply to the Centre for environmental clearance treating the project as a category ‘A’ project, which falls within 10 km of a protected wildlife sanctuary.
Besides seeking summoning of records related to the project, the plea had also sought issuance of a direction to restrain the respondents (Centre and others) from commencing the work “including construction, sale and allotment” of flats.
The PIL had raised issue of permissibility of the project alleging that it was in violation of the Punjab New Capital Periphery Control Act.
It had also alleged the project falls within the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake and was in close proximity of wildlife sanctuary, declared a reserved forest area.
The PIL had said if the land and its surrounding areas are allowed to be urbanised, “it will result in the degradation of the habitat and disturb thousands of migratory birds which come every year to the lake”.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.