M A I N   N E W S

‘City Beautiful will be ruined’
With Punjab politicians defending their involvement in the controversial Tata housing project even though it would mar Chandigarh’s skyline, eight prominent citizens speak out against it. The Tribune invites its readers to send in their views

Chandigarh has not seen anything quite like the multi-tower Tata housing project coming up in the vicinity of its famed Capitol Complex. And hopefully never will.

On Saturday, The Tribune had spoken to as many as 42 of the 102 Punjab politicians, who were beneficiaries of the project and all, but a few of them, vociferously defended their investments in it. After forming the Punjabi Housing Cooperative Society, these politicians belonging to parties from across the political spectrum, bought land in Kansal village and then entered into an agreement with the Tata Housing Development Company (THDC).

In return for selling their land to THDC, they would be given Rs 82.5 lakh plus a four-bedroom flat each in the 19 towers that the project envisioned. Each of these towers would be anything from 12 to 35 storeys high and would be located less than 2 km from Sukhna Lake and the Secretariat.

Apart from marring Chandigarh’s skyline, the Tata project is in violation of the Edict of Chandigarh, which had laid down that there would be no such highrise structures so close to the Capitol Complex. There are also serious environmental concerns that have not been addressed.

In response to the Tribune’s investigative series on the issue, eight prominent Chandigarh citizens speak out against the project.

‘We will not support Punjab’s claim to Chandigarh’

Justice Kuldip SinghIf this is the way Punjab politicians treat Chandigarh and sanction projects that will mar Chandigarh’s skyline forever, then we will certainly not support its claims for the city to be the capital of the state.

Justice Kuldip Singh, former Supreme Court Judge

‘Leave the gem alone’

Sudeep BudhirajaEach time I return to Chandigarh after travelling anywhere else in India, I thank God and the creators of this city. There is simply no other place like it in our country. Chandigarh was designed as a well planned low-rise urban area with unobstructed views of the Shivaliks. The High Court, the Capitol Complex and the Periphery Act were designed to fit in with and protect this vision. This project involving Tata Housing is misconceived and will be a blot on Chandigarh. It will mar our landscape and usurp our views of the Shivaliks. Further, as Punjab has no urban infrastructure in its vicinity, it will strain our infrastructure.

Chandigarh is tiny — only 121square kilometers. Please leave this gem alone, so it can shine for future generations. Punjab is huge and has great views of the Shivaliks from many locations not in the immediate vicinity of Chandigarh. Punjab should approve this and other projects in areas away from Chandigarh and develop its infrastructure, so people want to live throughout Punjab and not just on the doorstep of Chandigarh!

Sudeep Budhiraja, former senior executive of an international bank

‘Stop the assured destruction’

Rajan KashyapThe revelations in The Tribune that gigantic high-rise buildings are to come up in the vicinity of the city of Chandigarh are truly astounding. If the shameful project does go through, Chandigarh will be the ‘City Beautiful’ no more. Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision enabled Le Corbousier to create a dream city. The leaders of today will succeed in demolishing the unique structure in a matter of months. The winners in this exercise: strong armed wielders of money bags, and their connections. The permanent losers: the common man and his environment. Please stop the assured destruction! Will you?

Rajan Kashyap, former Punjab Chief Secretary

‘Heritage being trampled upon’

Anil NehruThe Tribune’s excellent series on Camelot highlights the challenges facing the Chandigarh Administration in protecting Corbusier’s heritage city. The periphery of Chandigarh was meant to be free of habitation. This has already been trampled on, but never in such a visually and obviously offensive manner.

Cannot a close reading and application of the all-encompassing Environmental Protection Act do its stated job of protecting the citizens of Chandigarh from further degradation of its infrastructure and environment? Could the Chandigarh Administration get directly involved in ensuring all provisions of the Act are adhered to, thereby ending the project before damage is done? Neither are our roads capable of dealing with increased periphery traffic, nor is there an unending supply of water in underground aquifers.

Were the Chandigarh Administrator to work on this city being declared a “heritage city” and accepted it as an “eco-sensitive zone”, such depredations may not even arise and certainly would be easier to halt before property brokers reach the stage of selling apartments in yet to be approved or constructed colonies.”

Anil Nehru, former director of a pharma giant

‘Is this another Adarsh?’

Rajendra K SabooThe news of "Chandigarh Skyline in Danger" is most shocking to say the least. I have been in Chandigarh since 1960 and have witnessed the care and passion with which the character of the City Beautiful has been maintained. While most newly planned cities in the country have been drawn into haphazard growth, Chandigarh uniquely sustained its basic philosophical and futuristic concept even amidst development.

There is nothing against urbanisation. Build a township keeping the same character as Chandigarh. Do not use its periphery to kill it, or kill what the country is trying to preserve. We have been seeking "International Heritage" status for the city. Now it seems that at the altar of greed of the politicians, bureaucrats, corporate real estate sector, the city with its vision, is being sacrificed.

It is amazing that the house of Tata headed by ethical iconic figure and highly respected corporate citizen of India, Ratan Tata should be involved in such a project that flouts the norms of environment, culture, character and the future. I wonder, is it another "Adarsh" in the making.

Rajendra K Saboo, social worker and former president, Rotary International

‘The city will become an urban slum’

Justice SS SodhiChandigarh is a world renowned model of a modern planned city besides also being looked upon as the pride of Punjab. How ironic that it should be Punjab, just for the benefit of the rich and powerful, is willing to allow this image to be marred. One shudders at the thought of what is likely to become of Chandigarh with the adjoining areas of Punjab fast turning into an urban slum as the powers that be seem so determined to ensure it.

Justice SS Sodhi, former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court

‘It will be tata to Chandigarh’

Pushi Chowdry“Chandigarh's backdrop of the Shivaliks is under threat thanks to some politicians, the house of Tata and Hash Builders. Chandigarh to me has been an "enlightened, cultural, beautiful and peaceful City." In fact, this is the meaning of the word Camelot. Now the nexus is cocking a snook at us by planning a "legal" monstrous high-rise complex that will cast its shadow on our city. And to add salt to our wounds they have cheekily called this "Camelot". These humungous structures will ruin Chandigarh and strain our infra structure. Forget Corbusier. Forget Nehru's dreams. Forget heritage. Forget the people of Chandigarh. Forget the environment. It seems these days it's all about mega money. Unless we all get together and fight this it will be ‘Ok Tata bye-bye Chandigarh’.”

Pushi Chowdry, marketing consultant

‘We will take up the matter with Sonia Gandhi’

PC SanghiIt is a deliberate attempt by vested interests to disfigure the character of the city for monetary gains. Residents of the Chandigarh have expressed grave concern over the high-rise structures coming up behind the Capitol Complex that is known for buildings having unique architectural designs. The proposed 19 towers are also a threat to the heritage of City Beautiful and the Federation of Sector Welfare Associations (FOSWAC) vehemently opposes the high-rise towers. The members of the FOSWAC condemn those trying to disfigure the character of Chandigarh. We, the residents, will take up the matter with UPA president Sonia Gandhi.

PC Sanghi, Chairman, Federation of Sector Welfare Associations (FOSWAC)

The Tribune invites its readers to send in their views whether for or against the project. In the days to come, we will carry a select few of them in the paper apart from putting the rest on our website. Do write in to us at editorinchief@tribuneindia.com





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