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Architects to appeal to Ratan Tata against Camelot project
Experts from Chandigarh and Punjab also decide to write to the Centre to stop violation of construction norms in the UT’s periphery
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Prominent architects and town planners from Punjab and Chandigarh have joined hands against the Camelot project by Tata Housing Development Company (THDC). Demanding that the Tatas abandon the project, the architects today decided to write to group chairman Ratan Tata over the issue.

Maintaining that the project was being constructed in violation of the New Punjab Periphery Control Act and the Edict of Chandigarh that banned construction in the north of the Capitol Complex, the architects said they would apprise Ratan Tata — himself a trained architect — of how the multi-tower, high-rise project would defy town planning norms.

A large number of these architects had gathered here to participate in a symposium, “Chandigarh and Tata Towers”, to deliberate over the upcoming project by Tata’s realty arm in Kansal village.

Besides Tata, the participants would also approach the Government of India with a request to formulate a central body that could prevent construction violations in Chandigarh’s periphery.

Notably, the high-rise project has become a talking point amongst the general public and town planners and architects after The Tribune highlighted how it posed danger to the city’s skyline and would violate the edict of Chandigarh. The project, comprising of 19 towers, some as high as 35 storeys, has 102 MLAs and MPs on board. Surinder Bahga, chairman of the Chandigarh-Punjab chapter of The Indian Institute of Architects, said that part of the original site of the Camelot project, which was promoted by Defence Services Society, was meant to be a plotted development, which was later shelved. “This project is against the very concept on which Chandigarh was designed. On one hand, a 10-storey building block near the General Post Office, which was part of the original master plan of Chandigarh, was shelved because experts felt that the roads may not be able to rake the onrush of vehicles coming towards this building. And now with the 19-tower Tata project, imagine the rush of vehicles on the roads in the northern sectors. This project, with some towers having 35 storeys, will be a huge drain on the infrastructure of the city,” he said.

Urging the THDC to withdraw from the project, Dr SS Bhatti, former principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture, said, “We urge Ratan Tata that if he has any respect for the law of the land, he should gracefully withdraw from the dubious project and set an example of business ethics. If he does so, this will be a landmark contribution in the field of environmental preservation.”

Claiming that the project was unsustainable, Jit K Gupta, the director of College of Architecture, Bhaddal, said this project was also fraught with danger emerging from massive uncontrolled urbanisation, which was likely to take place in the area once the project got going. “The project indicates high degree of insensitivity on the part of professionals, including architects and planners involved in planning, designing and approval of the project. This project is illogical and irrational and will impact the ecology and environment of the region. This planned disaster will result in the loss of green cover and excessive siltation, which will endanger the Sukhna,” he rued.

Talking about the legality of the project and its sanction by the Punjab Government, advocate Ajay Jagga, who has filed the PIL against violation in the city’s periphery, said it was being constructed in violation of the New Punjab Periphery Control Act. “The bureaucrats, posted in Chandigarh, are overlooking the violations in the city’s periphery because they belong to either Punjab or Haryana, and owe allegiance to these states. It is disheartening that the MLAs, who are the people’s representatives and are supposed to lead by example, are themselves violating the Periphery Control Act. The Centre should appoint a special secretary, Urban Planning, who should be given exclusive charge to ensure that the norms of construction in the periphery are not violated,” he said.

JS Ghuman, former chief town planner, Punjab, said the solution lied in creating a permanent mechanism for protecting nature. “The solution lies in creating a permanent mechanism for protecting the ecology. By taking the overall control of such land in the Shivalik foothills, in the north of the Capitol Complex to create an environment land bank, the government must bring in legal statutory powers against urbanisation in the periphery,” he said. 





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