If you go by the Noida Authority (NA) and state officials’ version, ongoing construction in the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Memorial Park is not in contravention of any law and does not require any mandatory central environmental clearance.
The construction has raised concerns—ranging from the environmental to the political. But senior state and Noida Authority (NA) officials who deposed before a Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Thursday said there was no reason for alarm.
The three-member CEC—comprising of PV Jayakrishnan, Mahendra Vyas and Sanjeev Chadha—sought to verify the illegalities of the project and its adverse impact on the contiguous centrally protected Okhla Bird Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.
In their public-interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court, residents Anand Arya and Kanan Jaswal had requested work be stopped at the project since it lacked mandatory environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests even though it was in proximity to the Okhla Bird Park and sized above the limit of 20, 000 sq m.
The project’s site is located between sectors 16 A to 95 and is merely 0-to-30 meter away from the sanctuary.
NA officials told the CEC the “built space at the park was only 9, 542 square metres ” which fell within the limit.
Besides, NA officials claimed, the park’s site was not a “notified forest” and therefore no permission under the Central conservation Act was required.
An officer from the Ministry of Environment reacted strongly to the NA’s version.
“We have told the CEC the satellite imageries of the park’s site since 2000-1 that we have requisitioned from the Forest Survey of India would nail the Noida Authority’s claims about it not being a forest,” he said.
“Their definition of construction area is incorrect and leaves out huge spaces of built-up areas.”