It was a mixed day for the Mayawati Government in the Supreme Court on Friday.
Pushed on a backfoot by a bench headed by Justice B.N. Agrawal for violation of undertaking given to the court to stop construction work on memorials in Lucknow, the Mayawati Government got a breather from another bench on the issue of ongoing construction in Noida Park, allegedly in violation of environmental norms.
A three-judge forest bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan refused to stay the ongoing work at the Noida’s Bhim Rao Ambedkar Park.
“How can we pass the order unless we see the counter-affidavit of the state government?” the bench, also comprising justices S.H. Kapadia and Aftab Alam asked after an applicant sought a stay of the construction activities in view of the Central Empowered Committee’s (CEC) recommendation to stop all construction activities for want of environmental clearance.
The bench asked the state to respond to the CEC’s report
by October 9, the next date of hearing.
Appearing for the applicant, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan requested the court to take up the matter urgently, saying construction activities were on in full swing on day-to-day basis despite CEC’s recommendation to the contrary.
The construction activities were being carried out without approval of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
On behalf of the state government, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal opposed Bhushan’s submission and sought four weeks to respond to the CEC report.
He also pointed out that the CEC report was not unanimous and the member secretary had dissented. Eighty per cent of the construction had already been completed, he added.
The Supreme Court-appointed CEC had on September 4 recommended stoppage of construction work at the Noida Park for violation of environment norms.
In its report to the court, the CEC said the construction activity would have an adverse effect on the surrounding ecosystem as it was located within 10 km of a protected bird sanctuary in Okhla.
Noting that 6,000 trees had been pulled down to execute the project, the CEC said the government should have sought environment clearance before starting it.