Housing project in green zone: SC rebukes Punjab govt

Supreme Court in New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday castigated the Punjab government for allowing a housing project in an eco-sensitive zone around Sukhna lake and Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary in which 95 MLAs of the Assembly were to be allotted one flat each.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai dismissed a plea by Tata Housing Development Company against a Delhi High Court's 2017 judgment for rejecting its project on the ground that the area in Mohali fell within the catchment area of Sukhna lake and was just 123 meters away from the boundary of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.

“The state of Punjab was required to act on the basis of the Doctrine of Public Trust. It has failed to do so,” the bench said.

The court noted that the origination of the project itself indicated that the state of Punjab was not acting in furtherance of Doctrine of Public Trust as 95 MLAs were to be the recipients of the flats.

“It is clear why the government has not been able to protect the eco-sensitive zone around a Wildlife and has permitted setting up of high-rise buildings up to 92 meters in the area in question, which is not at all permissible,” the bench added.

The court quashed the clearance granted to the project by the state government while noting the Union government also rightly rejected a plea for confining the buffer zone to 100 metres.

“We regret that such a scenario has emerged in the matter and that it involved a large number of MLAs of Punjab Legislative Assembly. The entire exercise smacks of arbitrariness on the part of government including functionaries,” the bench said.

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