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SC Clears Construction Activity At Noida Park

PTI 03 Dec 2010, 15:57:58 IST
New Delhi, Dec 3: In a reprieve for UP chief minister Mayawati, the Supreme Court today cleared Uttar Pradesh government's ambitious project to construct and install statues of Dalit icons at a park in Noida, saying it does not come under forest land.

"We have found that it is not on forest land," a bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishnan said.

However, the bench said there was concern that the project is in proximity of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary.

The Special Forest bench also put a rider that the 'pucca' construction and hard landscaping should not exceed 25 per cent of the site area.

Further, of the 75 per cent of the land, 50 per cent should have trees towards the direction of Okhla Bird Sanctuary and 25 per cent area should be covered with grass.

The bench said a three-member committee will ensure that the construction activity will be carried out in accordance with the conditions and guidelines laid down by it.

The project was mired in controversy following filing of some public interest litigations (PILs) against its execution, on the ground that it violated various environmental norms and building bye-laws.

Uttar Pradesh government has been defending the project, maintaining that it did not require any environmental clearance, a stand which was also supported by the Union government.

The area involved in the project was only 33.43 hectares, much below the bench mark of 1,50,000 sq metre requiring environment clearance from MoEF, the state government had contended.

All work for the Rs 650-crore project had been stopped since October 9, 2009, by an apex court order.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, while assisting the court as amicus curiae earlier in the matter, had argued that clearance of the project had to be given keeping in mind the environmental concern.

He had pointed out that it would have to be carefully examined if demolition of concrete works already done in the park would be the correct option as a major part of it has already been completed.

Salve had also said it needed to be examined if planting trees would serve the purpose of restoration of the forest area.

The Union government too earlier had said that the project did not require environmental clearance, but the bench had observed that the project cannot be automatically approved just because the Centre has given a green signal to it.

Appearing on behalf of some Noida residents opposed to the project, senior counsel Jayant Bhushan had contended that it lied in close proximity of Okhla Bird sanctuary and it needed to be subjected to an elaborate Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study, before its clearance. PTI