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Posted at: Nov 7, 2019, 6:43 AM; last updated: Nov 7, 2019, 6:43 AM (IST)

Sub-group rejects high-rise High Court expansion plan

Submits recommendations to heritage committee
Sub-group rejects high-rise High Court expansion plan

Ramkrishan Upadhyay

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 6

The sub-group of the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee has disapproved of the revised proposal for a ground plus three-level building with a structural foundation strength of a ground plus four-level building under the expansion plan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a 3,21,000 sq ft area.

Sources said instead of the revised proposal for a multi-storeyed building, the sub-group had recommended a low-rise building as per the first plan prepared by the architect, Satnam Namita and Associates, earlier.

The sub-group has submitted its recommendations to the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee, which will take the final decision. Members of the group visited the site last week to give their recommendations on two issues — revised expansion plan of the High Court and the construction of the 7-foot-high security wall. The members recommended that the security wall may be allowed where it is necessary for security reasons.

The sub-group found that the revised plan for the expansion of the High Court was against the master plan and the management plan submitted before UNESCO for the world heritage status to the Capitol Complex.

The sub-group recommended that the security concerns of the Punjab and Haryana High Court would be addressed without compromising on the heritage status of the Capitol Complex, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2016. The Capitol Complex comprises the iconic buildings of the High Court, Assemblies and the Secretariat.

While the security committee of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Chandigarh Administration to construct a high security boundary wall, not less than 7 ft in height, with a concertina coil covering the entire boundary of the High Court premises, the committee building of the High Court had directed to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for a ground plus three-level building with a structural foundation strength of a ground plus four-level building, rejecting the earlier low-rise building plan prepared by Satnam Namita and Associates.

The building committee of the High Court had  rejected the expansion plan on 2,66,430 sq ft prepared  by the architect  and  had asked the architect to  prepare an expansion plan on 3,21,000  sq ft  with the  structural strength  to bear the  load of a ground plus four-level building to  cater to the  present   as  well as future  requirement.

The sources said the sub-group members found that the  multi-storeyed building was against the master plan of the  UT submitted  to the  Punjab  and Haryana  High  Court  and  approved  by the  Government  of  India.  Besides, any further  construction  may put the  world heritage   status  in danger. Conservation architect Abha  Narain Lambha, appointed  by the Administration, had raised an objection to the   multi-storeyed building on the HC premises. She  said any  further  development could jeopardise the world heritage status of the Capitol Complex.  

The sources   said the members  had emphasised the need for getting environment clearances  for  the  expansion plan as the High Court area   falls in an eco-sensitive zone notified  by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate  Change in 2017. Any construction in an eco-sensitive  zone  requires mandatory  clearance. The  Supreme  Court  yesterday  scrapped the   Tata Camelot high-rise township project as it falls in the eco-sensitive  zone.    


About the expansion plan

  • Initially, a holistic development plan was prepared for “ground plus two levels” over 2.90 lakh sq ft for setting up, among other things, judicial and general branches, courtrooms, lawyers’ chambers and a parking for 3,500 to 4,000 four-wheelers.  The area was enhanced to 3.21 lakh sq ft for “ground plus three levels” in accordance with the directions issued by the High Court building committee. But the area was reduced to “ground plus one level” over 2.66 lakh sq ft following recommendations by the “conservation architect”.
  • The reduction, apparently, did not find favour with the authorities concerned and the area was resolved to be enhanced to at least 3.21 lakh sq ft during the building committee meeting held on May 16. The matter again came up for consideration during the meeting held on October 3. A private consultant appointed by UT Chief Engineer presented a development plan with provision for 3.45 lakh sq ft area. After discussing the matter at length, the committee approved the plan “with further directions that the buildings shall be constructed “ground plus three levels” with a structural foundation strength of ground plus four so as to cater to the future requirements of the High Court for expansion”.
  • The committee made it clear that it was of the considered opinion that the proposal for the “extended building of this court”, based on functional requirement of the litigants and the court, would have “precedence over the non-statutory norms and regulations of the heritage committee”.

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