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 The Punjab and Haryana High Court here Thursday stopped the construction of a controversial multi-storey housing project being executed by Tata Housing Development Company (THDC) in an ecologically fragile zone in Punjab, north of Chandigarh.

The court ruling is likely to come as a blow to THDC and a number of politicians and other influential people in Punjab who had sold big chunks of land to the company in recent years for the project in Mohali district.

Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh had recently sought a report from officials here after the controversial project was highlighted in the media.

The THDC launched the controversial “Camelot” project, comprising multi-tower, high-rise apartments. Some of the towers were supposed to have up to 23 floors – a thing unheard of in and around Chandigarh.

The THDC offered luxury flats and penthouses to politicians from the ruling Akali Dal, the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and other parties in Punjab in the proposed towers.

The company plans to have 18 high-rise buildings with luxury flats costing a minimum of a whopping Rs.30 million.

The project was opposed by lawyers and conservationists, saying that it violated the very spirit of Chandigarh.

The controversial project, for which THDC had obtained necessary clearances from the Punjab government, is located close to the Sukhna lake wildlife sanctuary.

There were allegations that the Punjab government bent rules to give a go-ahead to the project as about 102 Punjab politicians were on board.

The highest building in Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana secretariat complex in Sector 1 here, has 10 floors.

Chandigarh city, conceptualized by first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a symbol of emerging, modern India in the post-independence (1947) era, was designed by French architect Le Corbusier and his team in the 1950s.

Making strict rules of construction in and around the city in its master plan, no construction activity was allowed by the planners under law in an area of 16 km around the city.

Chandigarh, a union territory, is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.

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