Noida Park: SC seeks environment impact of felling trees

Last Updated: Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 19:25

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed
the Centre to examine the environmental impact caused by the
felling of around 6000 trees at a Park in Noida used by
Mayawati government for construction of statues and memorials
of Dalit leaders.

A Special Forest Bench headed by Chief Justice K G
Balakrishnan sought a response within four weeks from the
Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) about the impact the
project on the adjacent bird sanctuary.

"At this stage, we are not on the issue whether the land
in question is a forest land or not. At present, we need to
know only what is the impact of felling of trees on the
environment and adjacent bird sanctuary," the Bench, also
comprising Justices S H Kapadia and Aftab Alam, said and
posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of
July.

The Bench, which was hearing the plea of Uttar Pradesh
government for lifting the stay on the construction work, also
asked the MOEF to enumerate immediate measures for protection
of the environment and the bird sanctuary.

The hearing in the matter commenced in the backdrop of of
the affidavit filed by the MOEF that the park land is not
covered under the definition of forest and even the apex
court-appointed Central Empowered Committee report suggested
the same with a rider that the state government should seek
environmental clearance for the Rs 650-crore project on
the 33.43 hectare land.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who is assisting the court
as an amicus curaie in the matter, submitted that irrespective
of the fact whether the land in question is forest or not, it
has to be seen that the plantation done at tax payers` money
at the park could be removed without environmental clearance.

"If tax payers money is used for plantation, what are
the principles applied for felling around 6000 trees?" he said
and gave example of Siri Fort area in Delhi where the felling
of trees for construction of a stadium without environmental
clearance was criticised by the apex court.

The senior advocate said the role of the Centre was
important in the matter as it was sufficiently empowered to
act under the Central Environment Protection Act despite the
fact that the issue was not covered under the Forest Act.

He said the issue of buffer zone, in which the bird
sanctuary falls, cannot be ignored and the environment impact
of cutting trees on it have to be analysed.

Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for the
petitioner opposing the project, said it has to be determined
whether forest land has been used for no-forest purpose
without the permission of the centre and the apex court.
Bhushan submitted the environment clearance becomes more
important as the project land is within the buffer zone.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, appearing
for the MOEF, said government was willing to analyse the
impact of felling trees on the environment.

She, however, said the land did not come under the
category of forest land as the species of trees were not akin
to forest trees.

The ASG said since the project was on around 30b
hectares, it did not require environmental clearance.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Uttar
Pradesh government, said the land was only for recreation and
the project for which 70 per cent work has been completed is
in public interest.

He said crores of rupees had been spent on the project
of public interest where there will be nothing which would
pollute the environment as the park has been developed in a
modern way.

He said the affidavit of the Centre and the reports of
the CEC were in favour of the state government and the court
should lift the stay on construction work at the earliest.

Uttar Pradesh government has claimed it was losing Rs
three lakh everyday on the project and the stay on
construction at the site be lifted.

The senior advocate said not only all work has been
stopped since October 9 last but the structures exposed and the
maintenance cost has been increasing everyday.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 19:25

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