Ask MoEF to look into construction at Sukhna: HC to Tata Camelot

Taking up a case pertaining to the saving of Sukhna Lake and its catchment area, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday directed Tata Camelot to pursue its applications with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (Wildlife and periphery board).

The directions came from a division bench comprising of Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain. The bench also clarified, "Though there is a stay on the construction, it will be open to the Environment Ministry and boards to consider the applications and decide as to whether any environment clearance is to be given or not if they so desire."

The court further requested the counsel for petitioners and amicus curiae to frame issues specifically which are involved in main writ petition and also those issues which arise out of miscellaneous applications filed by parties.

All the counsels were also asked to file their suggestions in the concerned case so that the needful will be done within three weeks.

However, Aalok Jagga, an intervener in the case, moved an application informing the bench that Tata Camelot is concealing a fact - that its sales agreement pertaining to land with Defense Cooperative Housing Building Society, Kansal, expired on November 30, 2011. Initially, Jagga had challenged the Tata Camelot housing project in the court.

The case will come up for hearing on February 28.

Earlier, the Punjab government had requested the bench to vacate the stay on the construction, but the bench had declined their request.

Considering an application moved by Tata Camelot, the bench had impleaded it as a party in the on-going case.

In 2011, taking strong exception to illegal constructions coming up in the catchment area, the court had ordered a stay on further construction in the catchment area. The stay on demolition of illegal constructions ordered, in 2012, was however stayed by the Supreme Court.

The UT Administration was directed to immediately release funds to the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee so that it can complete a study of Sukhna Lake. Senior standing counsel for Union of India, Onkar Singh Batalvi, had apprised the court that the said institute had written to the UT Administration seeking finances to conduct the research, but to no effect.

The institute is supposed to complete the study of the lake by June 2013. However, the bench held that NIH should try to complete the study by April.

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