Court sets aside environmental clearance, says complex in Lake’s catchment area
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dealt a big blow to the Tata Camelot Housing Colony (CAMELOT), touted as a “high performance residential cum retail complex,” as it held that it was within the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake and set aside all environmental clearance and permissions granted to the project.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw set aside the environmental clearance granted for the project proposed to be set up by Tata Housing Development Company Ltd. (Tata HDCL) in Kansal village of Mohali district in Punjab.
The Tata HDCL had proposed to construct 19 towers of 7 to 28 storeys in an area admeasuring 52 acres which is located about 1500 m from the Sukhna Lake and 123 m from the Wild Life Sanctuary.
“The area over which the project in question is proposed to be constructed forms part of the catchment area of Sukhna Lake as demarcated in the Survey of India map dated 21.09.2004,” the Bench held.
“The permission granted by Nagar Panchayat Naya Gaon to Tata HDCL is invalid and is hereby set aside,” said the Bench while directing the Punjab government to reconsider the matter in the light of its judgement.
Category ‘A’ project
“The environmental clearance granted by SEIAA Punjab for development of the project is not in conformity with the notification of the Ministry of Environment & Forests,” said the Bench in its 169-page judgement.
It also made it clear that if on reconsideration, the matter is decided in favour of Tata HDCL, it may apply to the Central Government for environmental clearance treating the project as a category ‘A’ project.
All category ‘A’ projects require mandatory clearance from the Centre.
The HC noted that “the contention of Tata HDCL that the project site does not form part of catchment area of Sukhna Lake is liable to be rejected”.
The verdict comes on two petitions filed by advocate Aalok Jagga and by Sarin Memorial Legal Aid Foundation, challenging the permissibility of construction of the housing project on various grounds, including that the project is not authorised under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court after the Punjab & Haryana High Court allowed the construction of the project.