No automatic go-ahead for Dalit memorials in Noida park: SC

Agencies Posted online: Fri Aug 20 2010, 19:39 hrs
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday said there was no automatic
go-ahead for the Uttar Pradesh government project of constructing
statues and memorials for Dalit leaders at Noida Park merely because
the Centre has stated that environment clearance was not required for
It said such a stand of the Centre that the Environment Impact
Assessment (EIA) was not required for the project has to be discussed
in detail before arriving at any conclusion.

We cannot say fait accompli, otherwise, we may hear that some other
projects are being cleared under the garb of this matter, a special
Forest Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices Aftab
Alam and K S Radhakrishnan


The Bench was perusing the affidavit filed by the Ministry of
Environment and Forest (MoEF) which said the project of the Mayawati
government is covered under Area Development Activity requiring no

The affidavit said the area involved in the project was only 33.43
hectares, much below the bench mark of 1,50,000 sq metres requiring
environment clearance from the MoEF.

However, the ministry affidavit elicited strong objections from
opponents of the project.

Senior advocate Harsh Salve, who is assisting the court as an amicus
curiae in the matter, said the acceptance of such a stand of the
government will cause more damage.

If this affidavit is accepted, it is not going to help, rather it is
going to hurt others, he said and cautioned the Bench against allowing
the issue to move for fait accompli.

It is difficult to turn the clock back, he said adding the project
should not be allowed without the EIA.

His stand was supported by the counsel for Noida residents, Jayant
Bhushan, who said the project cannot be cleared without EIA as it was
next to the Okhla bird sanctuary.

The project is less than 10 km away from the sanctuary and requires
environment clearance from MoEF," he said.

The apex court had on August 13 wanted to know from the Centre under
which category of Environment Assessment Notification the project
could be put.

It is examining whether the project falls under the category of
Building and Construction Project or Township and Area Development

The project, which covers 20,000 sq metres, comes under the first
category while those using 1,50,000 sq metres falls

under the second.

The apex court had also sought central response to the suggestion that
guidelines should be laid down for giving environmental clearance to
projects in the vicinity of urban forests like Noida park and Siri
Fort in the national capital.

Uttar Pradesh government had said Noida authorities were ready to
reduce the concrete area of the park where statues and memorials of
Dalit leaders have been installed.

It has come out with the proposal to reduce the concrete area to 35
per cent of the total park land area of 34 hectares used in the
construction activities.

The state government had said 65 per cent area would be planted with trees.

Earlier, the Centre had said it could not grant environmental
clearance for construction of statues and memorials for Dalit leaders
at a park in Noida if Uttar Pradesh government does not take measures
for the area's ecological restoration.

In an affidavit, MoEF had said that given the complex nature of the
project and its adverse impact on surrounding biodiversity and its
proximity to Okhla bird sancturay, it will not grant the clearance.

The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry, which reviewed
the three environment impact assessment reports prepared by UP
government, has also suggested certain measures to be taken by the
state for getting clearance to the Rs 650-crore project.

MoEF had, during the proceedings on July 21, sought time to examine
the reports prepared by UP government saying they were not concurring
with each other.

The expert bodies appointed by the state government had conducted
three studies after the apex court stayed construction work at the

The UP government had claimed the stay on construction work was
causing to it a loss of Rs three lakh everyday.

The state government had said MoEF's earlier affidavit, in which it
had said that the land in question did not come under the forest area,
favoured the lifting of the stay on construction at the site.

The UP government had submitted that all hurdles for lifting the stay
have been removed as the Centre, in its affidavit, had said that there
was no need for environmental clearance for the project.

It had argued that the apex court-appointed Central

Empowered Committee (CEC) in its report also had said that the project
in no way affects the bird sanctuary in Okhla.

All work for the Rs 650-crore project on the 33.43 hectare land has
been stopped since October 9, 2009, by an apex court order.

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