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Nod for Siri Fort complex expansion

The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee has permitted construction of new squash and badminton courts within the Siri Fort Sports Complex for the 2010 CW Games.

delhi Updated: Jan 24, 2009 00:12 IST
Bhadra Sinha

The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has permitted construction of new squash and badminton courts within the Siri Fort Sports Complex for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The CEC gave its nod even as it found serious deviations in the project and held that the felling of around 1,000 trees would have an adverse impact on environment.

“Ideally the CEC would prefer that the construction taken up by the DDA in the area is demolished and the area is reclaimed and rehabilitated by planting adequate number of trees. However, if for any reason such as time constraint for creating alternative facilities for the ensuing Commonwealth Games, it is found necessary to permit the project at the existing site,” the CEC report said.

A special forest bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan on Friday refused to stay felling of more trees even as senior advocate Harish Salve assisting the court pleaded to “teach DDA a lesson” for “mindless” felling of more than 1,000 trees in the green area. The bench said it would take up the matter next Friday.

The CEC has urged the bench to impose a fine of Rs 5 crore on the DDA as rehabilitation and restoration cost. It also advised the constitution of a high-powered monitoring committee to oversee completion of the project. As per its recommendations, the committee would be chaired by Delhi’s chief secretary and consist of one representative from the ministry of environment and forests, the DDA, Delhi’s conservator of forests and three non-officials. The CEC has provided a list of non-officials to the court.

One of the duties of the monitoring committee is to restore and rehabilitate the area in and around the project site. If forest bench accepts the report, the committee would also ensure no further felling of trees in the area or change of existing land use.

As residents of Siri Fort Road and sports complex members fear conversion of the new indoor stadium into a commercial complex once the Games are over, the CEC has urged the apex court not to permit any commercial or non-sports activities there.