The Supreme Court on Friday ordered all construction and masonry work to stop at Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Memorial Park in Noida.
Statues of UP Chief Minister Mayawati and her mentor, the late Kanshiram, were also to be installed at the park.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, however, allowed the Noida Authority to continue with greening and beautification works, such as planting of trees and flowers in the 33-hectare park.
The forest bench, also comprising justices SH Kapadia and Aftab Alam, which had refused to stay work on July 10, issued the stay order on the basis of a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommendation for suspension of all construction works pending clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
The bench sought the ministry’s response to CEC’s report by October 26, the next date of hearing.
“What will happen if the MoEF does not give clearance or we hold against you?” the court asked. As the UP government counsel uttered the word ‘demolition’, the bench retorted: “Demolishing construction has much more wider ramifications than stopping constructions for 10 days… Why the public exchequer’s money should be wasted?”
On September 8, another bench headed by Justice BN Agrawal had stopped all construction at 24 memorial sites in Lucknow.
State chief secretary AK Gupta is facing contempt charges for violating the undertaking given to the court and a subsequent order banning all sorts of constructions. Gupta has to appear before the court on November 4.
Senior counsel Jayant Bhushan pointed out on behalf of petitioner Anand Arya that in its report submitted to the Supreme Court, the CEC had said construction activities in the Noida park would have an adverse effect on the surrounding ecosystem.
The court rejected the state government’s plea to not stop construction work after senior counsel Harish Salve, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae (court’s friend), pointed out that about 6,000 trees had been felled to execute the Rs 685-crore project.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, representing the UP government, said work had been on since January 2008 and 75 per cent of it had been completed. “What will happen in the next 10 days?” he asked.
The bench was not convinced. “We are ready to wait for a week or even for a month but why can’t you stop the work for a week or 10 days? …if the construction is completed, what will be left for the court to adjudicate upon?” asked Justice Alam.
The bench sought to know if proper sanction had been obtained for the permanent structures inside the park. Rohtagi had contended that there was no need for clearance from the MoEF and therefore the construction could go on.