“We’ll not let you lay even a brick. How and why was this eyesore allowed? If the proposed constructions are found to be suffering from illegalities or other irregularities tomorrow, losses would become irreparable. We have to stop it now,” a bench by Justice R M Lodha told the counsel for Tata Housing, Abhishek Manu Singhvi. And forced him to undertake “to maintain status quo in all respect” at the project site near the Sukhna Lake.
The bench rejected the counsel’s contentions that a restraining order was not needed as the project anyway would not get the wildlife clearance for at least another two months; and that it might impede the firm’s bid to obtain said clearance. The bench, however, told Singhvi it had to ensure the project is not hazardous to the environment. “You will have to maintain status quo,” it ordered. “It is a very significant matter for a city. If the constructions are in the catchment area, the lake may dry up. We cannot allow this.”
The bench also did not entertain Singhvi’s plea to send the 17 petitioners back to the Punjab and Haryana High Court or dismiss their petition on the ground of delay in moving the apex court. “It is a very serious matter. Thirty six-storey buildings are coming up on 53-acres of land and it has been claimed that the land is in the catchment area of the lake. We will hear this matter. We will not dismiss it on technical grounds. Larger public interest demands that delay in filing the petition be condoned,” the bench said, and sent notices to Tata Housing and state authorities, among others.
On shaky ground
TATA Camelot is a Rs 1,800-crore housing project proposed to be raised on 53.39 acres of land near the Chandigarh Capitol Complex.
The project’s fate has been hanging in the balance since it was challenged in the high court in November 2010.