The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Union government to examine the environmental viability of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati-backed project for converting a Noida park into a memorial for her political mentor late Kanshi Ram.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Aftab Alam asked the union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) to examine the project’s impact on the adjoining Kalindi Kunj bird sanctuary.
Over 6,000 trees located between Yamuna riverbed and Noida were felled for the project that aims to put up statues of Dalit leaders in the park.
The court also asked the ministry to suggest measures to minimize the adverse impact on environment, in case the project is eventually allowed to come up.
The bench put the ball in the union ministry’s court after senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Mayawati government, made a fervent plea against scrapping of the project in public interest as major construction works have already been completed.
Venugopal said that the state was willing to further restore the greenery in the area in lieu of the trees felled by it and was ready to open the project to public.
At this the bench, on a suggestion by senior counsel Harish Salve, specially appointed to assist the court on environmental issues, asked the central ministry to examine the project in terms of its submission made in an affidavit Oct 21, 2009.
The central government had told the court in its affidavit that ‘if the Supreme Court desires that this project should be appraised from environmental angle, MOEF will be able to appraise it on the basis of details and documents supplied by Uttar Pradesh government and submit its recommendations to court.’
‘The recommendation will include the necessary environmental measures required to minimize the likely adverse environmental impact,’ the union ministry had said, extending a ray of hope for Mayawati’s controversial project.
The apex court Oct 9, 2009 had stopped all construction and masonry work in the sprawling 33 acre Noida park, christened as Noida Central Plaza.
The bench, also known as the Green bench or the Forest bench as it adjudicates cases pertaining to environmental laws, had halted masonry work in the park while hearing a plea by the court-appointed central empowered committee (CEC).
The committee objected to building huge concrete structures and statues on the bank of Yamuna after felling over 6,000 trees.
The panel had contended that the park was being developed without the mandatory clearance from the MOEF. It had sought the court’s direction to stop the construction work till the state government is accorded permission by the ministry.