Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 16
Just over a month after the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the administrative side accorded its approval to “holistic” development plan for setting up imposing multi-storey buildings in its vicinity, the Chandigarh Administration has mooted underground parking, while suggesting the preservation of a greenbelt.
In a communication placed before the High Court during the hearing of a petition on the issue of constructing lawyers’ chambers, the UT Administration asserted, “After detailed deliberation during a meeting attended by technical and heritage experts, the Administration is of the opinion that in the first phase, underground parking of three floors below the existing temporary surface parking area can be constructed to accommodate 3,000 vehicles.
“The surface construction should be avoided to respect the commitment of green area, submitted by the UT Administration to UNESCO through the Union Ministry of Culture.”
The communication placed before the Bench of Justice Jaswant Singh and Justice Girish Agnihotri by UT senior standing counsel Pankaj Jain added, “The above stand of the Chandigarh Administration may be apprised suitably to the High Court. This issues (This is issued) with the prior approval of the Governor and the UT Administrator.”
The communication from the UT Chief Engineer-cum-Special Secretary (Engineering) added that the demands raised by the High Court Bar Association (HCBA) in the court were discussed during a meeting held on October 10 under the chairmanship of the Secretary, Engineering and Urban Planning. Subsequently, the issue was deliberated in another meeting held on October 16 under the chairmanship of the UT Adviser. The UT Principal Secretary, Home and Law, the FS-cum-Secretary, Engineering and Urban Planning, the Deputy Commissioner, the Chief Conservator of Forests, the Legal Remberancer and the Chief Architect were also present.
After detailed deliberation, it was also decided that an additional floor (over ground) on the existing multi-level parking could be allowed subject to the structural stability of the existing parking.
Referring to the holistic development plan, it said a block had been earmarked for administrative branches. “The High Court may take a view on the plea made by the Bar Association that whether to utilise this space for market or dispensary in addition to the existing facilities already provided in the adjoining buildings”.
It added that the Bar Association had requested for an additional floor above the proposed new lawyers’ chambers. This would require modification of the HC Building Committee’s earlier decision, which was taken after “going beyond the heritage norms”.
It was further added that in the Administration’s considered view, the proposed additional space of 30,000 sq ft for additional lawyers’ chambers, already finalised by the Building Committee, may be accepted.
A former Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who retired as Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, had also warned against the use of greenbelt for constructing lawyers’ chambers, saying it would come as a death blow for the planned city of Chandigarh.
Justice SS Sodhi had made it clear that chambers on the greenbelt opposite the HC Museum could be built only on the debris of heritage. “If the green belt is allowed to be converted into chambers, it will sound the death knell of the planned city of Chandigarh,” Justice Sodhi had asserted in a letter to the then Acting Chief Justice.
Lawyers’ demand for chambers
The matter has its genesis in demand by the lawyers for construction of chambers and multi-level parking in the “the Capitol Parc” entailing six-acre green patch between the Tourist Information Centre and the road abutting the Rock Garden. A writ petition, “the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association versus UT of Chandigarh” was filed in the matter way back in 2013 for additional land to construct new chambers.
The Bar Association has already suggested the preservation of the green patches along the lake road with an underground parking for accommodating vehicles. The Bar also claimed the Chandigarh Administration was in agreement with its proposal.
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