High Court grounds Tata Camelot project, for now
Chandigarh, January 20
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has put on hold Tata Camelot Housing Colony Project, coming up in Punjab’s Kansal village.
The 19-tower Tata housing project has top politicians as its members. The Punjab Government had given special treatment to the project using loopholes to permit high-rises near Sukhna Lake.
The Bench of Acting Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Augustine George Masih today ordered a stay on the booking, selling and construction of the Tata Camelot Housing Colony project.
The direction came this morning during the hearing of public interest litigations (PILs), including the one filed by Punjab and Haryana High Court advocate Aalok Jagga. His counsel DS Patwalia had earlier sought directions to Tata, Punjab and other respondents to maintain status quo in the matter.
Tata Housing also moved an application to be made a party in the PIL. After it was allowed, it asked for time to file a detailed reply, along with supporting documents.
The counsel for Tata Housing and Hash Developers also assured the court that no construction or sale activity would be undertaken till further directions.
As the petition was taken up with a connected matter on the preparation of a master plan for Chandigarh and its periphery, UT senior standing counsel Sanjay Kaushal sought additional time for coming out with the master plan.
The counsel for the states of Punjab and Haryana, meanwhile, contended the master plans for adjoining areas within their territory had already been notified and published.
After hearing the contentions, the Bench gave UT time till March 31 to finalise the master plan. The Bench also issued directions to Haryana and
The Bench, in fact, directed Punjab and Haryana, along with Chandigarh, to convene a meeting of the coordination committee, constituted for integration of the master plans to ensure harmonious growth. The court indicated that an early decision in the matter needs to be taken and directed the parties concerned to convene the meeting within four weeks.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the 35-storey structure’s construction in the Capitol Complex’s vicinity, the high court had, on November 15 last, ruled that it revealed a “disturbing state of rapid and unregulated urbanisation”.
Justice Ajay Tewari had then asserted that the coming up of the structure was all the more disturbing as the high court was monitoring Chandigarh’s master plan preparation.
The issue was brought to the high court’s notice through a newspaper report saying that nine residential towers having 12 to 35 storeys were set to dot the UT skyline, once the construction of Tata Camelot project commences at Kansal.
In his note, Justice Tewari had asserted: “The news item reporting about proposed 35-storey construction in the immediate vicinity of the Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, reveals a very disturbing state of rapid and unregulated urbanisation, particularly since this court is monitoring the process of preparation of the master plan for Chandigarh.”
Project may not get ‘green’ light
Chandigarh, January 20
The latest guidelines issued by the ministry for the declaration of eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, clearly says that “discharge of effluents and solid waste in natural waterbodies or terrestrial area in the eco-sensitive areas, will be prohibited”. So once the area is declared an eco-sensitive zone, all major constructions that release effluents in the area will not be allowed.
The 52-acre project site at Kansal village falls in the Sukhna catchment area. The Tata Housing Development Company (THDC) has to get approval from the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee of the ministry. (The project could have got clearance from the state EIA panel, but the Punjab EIA panel has been rendered redundant ever since two of its members resigned. So, the project will now have to get clearance from the MoEF directly.)
According to sources in the MoEF, the ministry’s EIA committee can disapprove the project as it falls in the catchment area, and the effluents and solid waste from the project, will be discharged in Patiala ki Rao.
But the question now is whether the Chandigarh Administration will finally rise to the occasion, to prevent further plundering of the Sukhna’s catchment area by Punjab and Haryana governments, which have been approving construction activities in the area, often by bending rules.
The Tribune recently carried a series of news reports highlighting various irregularities in the multi-tower project in the Sukhna catchment area.
Over the past couple of years, Punjab has been going ahead in a systematic and “legal” manner to regularise all constructions in the area. Haryana, though maintaining sanctity of forest cover in Sukhna’s catchment area so far, too, now seems inclined to give the go-ahead for colonisation in the catchment area falling in its territory.
The UT Administration has done little to check the trend apart from shooting letters to the two state governments, requesting them not to violate UT periphery or allow construction in the area.
Interestingly, UT Adviser Pradip Mehra, when contacted, only had to say that “he is happy with the stay order on the Camelot project, and will respect the court’s directions”.
Though no senior official in the Chandigarh Administration was willing to go on record regarding Chandigarh’s preparedness for declaring the area as an eco-sensitive zone, an officer said following the orders issued by MoEF Minister Jairam Ramesh, they would soon start work on preparing the area details for the eco-sensitive zone.
“In all likelihood, this will include the entire catchment area of Sukhna Lake, which includes the area of Kaimbwala, Khuda Lahora, Kansal, Nayagaon, Saketri and Mahadevpur,” he said, adding that the details would be directly sent to the MoEF for notification.
However, it will need intervention of the MoEF to ensure that Punjab and Haryana also declared the catchment area falling in their respective territories, as eco-sensitive zone.