Uttar Pradesh government on Friday defended its project of constructing statues and memorials for Dalit leaders at Noida Park near here saying it did not fall under the forest area.
"The project is not in the forest area," senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the state government, submitted before a special forest bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishnan.
He said that of the 6194 trees that have been cut, only 47 required the permission of the authorities for uprooting them as they were of native variety.
He said the permission for that was secured and remaining trees were cut as no permission was needed for them
All work for the Rs 650-crore project on the 33.43 hectare land has been stopped since October 9, 2009, by an apex court order.
Earlier, senior advocate Harish Salve, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter, said clearance to the project has to be given keeping in mind the environmental concern.
He said since major part of the work was completed, it would have to be carefully examined whether demolition would be the correct option.
He said it has also to be viewed whether planting of trees would serve the purpose of restoration of forest or not.
The apex court had during the earlier hearing maintained that automatic clearance to the project cannot be given merely because the Centre has stated that environment clearance was not required for it.
It had said such a stand of the Centre that the Environment Impact Assesssment (EIA) was not required for the project has to be discussed in detail before arriving at any conclusion.