Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 25
Less than a month after the Tata Camelot case judgment, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that any construction on the Sukhna wetland would be considered unauthorised.
As the case came up for resumed hearing, senior standing counsel for the UT Administration Pankaj Jain told the Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu that the UT, in 1988, had declared a 2.7-km area from Sukhna Lake’s boundary a wetland. The Bench was also told that the Centre, too, in 2017, had declared the area an eco-sensitive zone. As such, no construction activity was permissible in the area.
The state of Punjab, on the other hand, submitted that some area of the wetland was included in its master plan. However, the argument failed to find favour with the Bench. The case will now come up for hearing on December 2.
The Supreme Court had, earlier this month, held that the Camelot project violated environmental norms. “Considering the distance of 123 metres from the northern side and 183 metres from the eastern side of the project in question from the wildlife sanctuary, in our opinion, no such project can be allowed to come up in the area in question,” a three-Judge Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said, adding, “Such projects cannot be permitted to come up within such a short distance from the wildlife sanctuary.”
The Bench – which also included Justice MR Shah and Justice BR Gavai — said the project went against permissible norms as it fell within the catchment area of Sukhna Lake. “The court has to perform its duty in such a scenario when the authorities have failed to protect the wildlife sanctuary eco-sensitive zone.”
Sukhna Lake was declared a wetland more than three decades ago. In a status report placed before the High Court, it was stated that the UT Administrator, vide a notification dated July 6, 1988, had declared the area of Sukhna Lake a wetland.
The notification made it clear that the wetland comprising Sukhna Lake served as “suitable niche for fish and other aquatic animals, a breeding and nursery ground for water fowls and as filters for sediments and pollutants, apart from being an ideal spot for water sports”.
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