Three months before the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests began its probe against Noida's Bhim Rao Ambedkar memorial park, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-D) had repeatedly warned the Noida Authority of the need to acquire Environmental Impact Assessment certificates owing to the project's proximity with the Okhla Bird Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.
But despite the reminder, NOIDA Authority officials chose not to respond to the communication.
This fact is borne out in a series of correspondence—copies of which are in possession of HT—between Noida Authority's senior projects manager AK Goel, in charge of the project, and IIT D's Environmental Engineering department's associate professor Atul K Mittal in the months of March and April this year.
Goel had requested the premier technology institute on January 29 to carry out the scrutiny of the project. Goel informed IIT-D this was essential as the project's worth was Rs. 192. 19 crore, and not around Rs. 187 crore which the Authority had claimed. According to rules any construction project worth Rs. 10 crore or above must get evaluated by IIT-D.
Mittal asked Goel whether or not the Authority had changed the land-use category of the project's 33-hectare large site to "built-up area" from "parklands/green area".
The information, according to Mittal, was "crucial to determine the impact on the nearby (Okhla) bird sanctuary, but Goel did not respond.
Mittal informed the Authority the project needed mandatory environmental clearance from the environment ministry as per provisions of the central Environmental Protection Act, 2006, on two counts: it was sized around 3.3 lakh square metre; and was located in proximity to the centrally protected Okhla Bird Sanctuary.