The controversy over construction of statues and memorial for Dalit leaders at a Noida park seems to be heading for a possible solution.
In response to the Supreme Court’s advice, the UP government has said in an affidavit that it has decided to reduce the constructed area from 55 per cent to 39 per cent. With this, the green cover area would increase to 61 per cent.
The government refused to remove any statue or alter the main structure that covers 30 per cent of the site. But it has proposed to decrease the concrete walking area from 25 per cent to 9 per cent. The government said it would transplant trees of 8 to 10 ft at the site.
The state government’s response follows a joint inspection by the centrally empowered committee members and government officials of the park on August 3. The survey took place, as the petitioner in the case opposing the project demanded the green cover be increased to 70 per cent.
A special bench headed by Justice S.H. Kapadia had on the last date of hearing suggested increasing the green area to 60 per cent and recommended planting of indigenous trees such as neem, peepal and banyan tree in place of “cosmetic” trees.
The court had asked the government to re-plant some of the 6,000 uprooted trees at the site. It had also recommended planting of a branch of the Bodhi tree from Bodh Gaya at the park.
Centre’s recent affidavit, filed through counsel Haris Beeren, before the apex court has, however, said it would not grant environmental clearance for the memorial if the state government did not take measures for the area’s ecological restoration.
The affidavit is a U-turn from the Centre’s earlier stand in which it had stated the land in question did not come under the forest area. This stand, the UP government had told SC, favoured lifting of the stay imposed by the apex court in October last year.
The affidavit cited Bombay Natural History Society’s report and stated the ministry would not grant clearance until the state did not undertake and discharge the actions suggested by the society.
The expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the ministry, which reviewed the three environment impact assessment reports prepared by the UP government, has also suggested certain measures to be taken by the state for getting clearance for the Rs 650-crore project at the area extending over 33.43 hectares.