Chandigarh: High Court says Periphery Control Act applicable to housing project, ‘vision of one (Mon Le Corbusier) must not be pitted against myopia of multitudes’
The Punjab and Haryana High Court left the decision on the controversial Tata Camelot project on the concerned authorities, from whom the project is required to get necessary sanctions, permissions and clearances, under the Wildlife (Protection) Act and Environment (Protection) Act. While disposing of a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the “permissibility of the project” proposed to be set up by Tata in Chandigarh’s periphery, the division bench of the High Court, comprising of Chief Justice, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Mahesh Grover, held that the Periphery Control Act is applicable to the housing project; but “only on the fulfillment of the clearances, sanctions, permissions and other pre-conditions required under the Environment (Protection) Act and Wildlife (Protection) Act”.
The division bench held that the project shall have to invoke the jurisdiction of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and Environment (Protection) Act, and after fulfillment of all the required formalities, the project can make any further progress so as to avoid a situation where “the vision of one (Mon Le Corbusier) is pitted against the myopia of the multitudes”.
On the question of whether the project violates the edict of Chandigarh, the Court ruled, “Viewed from the strict dictionary meaning of the word edict, ie a decree issued by the sovereign or other authority or any authoritative proclamation or command, the words of Mon Le Corbusier may not amount to an edict at all. It is in the nature of a formal wish of a person that the future generations would continue to preserve what has been built”.
Further, referring to various authorities, which are required to give clearances to the project, the High Court ruled, “A more rigorous regulated development in what are now the remnants of the periphery and the areas adjoining it is the need of the hour for which the stakeholders, ie the Administration of Chandigarh, the States of Punjab and Haryana as also the authorities under the Environment (Protection) Act and the Wild Life Protection Act, have to demonstrate the need to engage themselves intensively and not acquire a placid approach indicating an eloquent acquiescence to the violation of the 1995 Act, Periphery Control Act and the Periphery Policy.”
The petitioner Aalok Jagga, a local advocate, had challenged the permissibility of the project and even contended in the PIL that the housing project, which is proposed to come up in the Sukhna Lake catchment area, requires clearance under the Wildlife (Protection) Act which had already been refused to the project. The promoters of the project had sought a review of the refusal, which is still pending.
The promoters had raised contentions that the Periphery Control Act is not applicable to the project while the petitioner has pleaded that the Act is applicable. Admitting the contentions raised by the petitioner, the HC has ruled that the Periphery Control Act is applicable to the project but the promoters of the project shall have to apply for the required clearances, permissions under the relevant provisions to carry on with the project.
Commenting on the order, a Tata Housing Development Company spokesperson said, “We welcome the decision by the Court which has been taken in the best interest of society at large. We assure that the manner in which the project has been planned will make it another architectural marvel. The project is conceptualised as a Green Development — to be in total harmony with the environment. The project will proceed further after securing necessary permissions from the appropriate authorities.”