Conditional nod for construction of statues, other structures at Noida park
In a big relief to the Mayawati government the Supreme Court on Friday held that the Noida park area would not come under the ambit of ‘forest’ and hence permitted the construction of statues and other structures in the park.
A three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justices Aftab Alam and K.S. Radhakrishnan, however, made it clear that the total constructed area in the park under hard surface, whether covered, uncovered (including pathways and boundary wall) should not exceed 25 per cent of the total project area.
The Bench held that no Environment Impact Assessment clearance was necessary for the project as the construction would fall within the ambit of Schedule 8 (b) of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006, viz., Townships and Area Development Projects.
Writing the judgment, Justice Alam said: “25 per cent of the total project area should be used for soft/green landscaping and the remaining 50 per cent must have a thick cover of trees of the native variety.
“The plantation of trees should be especially dense towards the Okhla Bird Sanctuary on the western side of the project area.
“Any construction work should commence only on completion of the planting of the trees.”
The Bench said: “Though everyone, excepting the project proponents, views the construction practically adjoining the bird sanctuary as a potential hazard to the sensitive and fragile ecological balance of the sanctuary there is no law to stop it.
“But the absence of a statute will not preclude this court from examining the project’s effects on the environment with particular reference to the OBS.
“Environment is one of the facets of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. If the court perceives any project or activity as harmful or injurious to the environment it would feel obliged to step in.”
However, the Bench said: “We see no justification for directing the demolition of the constructions made in the project. We would rather allow the project to be completed, subject, of course to the conditions suggested by the three expert bodies and subject to the directions of this court.”
It said the construction should be overseen by an expert committee, one member preferably an ornithologist to be nominated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests; another nominated by the Central Empowered Committee and the Chairman-cum-CEO of Noida would be the member-Secretary.