Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 20
Nearly six months after the move to axe 700 “fully mature” trees for the proposed flyover connecting Zirakpur and Tribune Chowk came under the judicial scanner, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the uprooting of the same, along with the construction process.
The stay order by the Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shankar Jha and Justice Rajiv Sharma came on an application filed by the Run Club for restraining the Chandigarh Administration and other respondents from cutting the trees existing on both sides of Dakshin Marg and Purv Marg for the construction of the flyover.
The Bench, in its order, took note of the contention that the process of setting up the flyover was being carried out without making the necessary amendments to the master plan of the city. The applicant, through senior advocate Puneet Bali, contended that the counsel appearing on behalf of the UT Administration had, on a previous date of hearing, given a categorical statement before the High Court that the trees would not be axed without prior permission.
Bali added that the petitioner came to know that the respondent authorities had started marking the trees for axing these on the premise that the High Court had not ordered a stay. Its stand was also “publicised” by local newspapers.
Bali also told the court that cutting of trees would cause irreparable harm to the environment. Describing the plan to replant the mature trees as a “non-feasible alternative”, he added that efforts in the past to ensure replantation had miserably failed. “One such example of this is the case of Rajendra Park in Chandigarh which was converted into a tourist spot. However, the park is lying barren.”
Submitting that the decision was “highly questionable”, Bali had earlier contended that the mature mango and other trees were planted in accordance with the “Chandigarh Project Plan” in a planned and thoughtful manner several decades ago.
A challenge was also mounted to the move on the ground that it was in violation of the traffic and transportation proposals envisaged in the Chandigarh Master Plan-2031, wherein only an underpass was proposed at Tribune Chowk on Dakshin Marg.
“It is ironical that the Chandigarh Master Plan-2031 was prepared and published with much fanfare by the Chandigarh Administration and the same is being violated now,” Bali submitted, adding that a number of urban communities were moving away from the concept of constructing flyovers to mitigate traffic problems.
Urban development always comes at a price. We have to take a balanced decision keeping in view the needs of society. — Manoj Parida, UT Adviser
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