More than 10 years after the foundation stone for the Ala Hazrat Haj House was set near the banks of river Hindon, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav will inaugurate the newly constructed building on Monday.
However, the construction is a reason for the tussle between authorities and green activists and a petition is pending at the National Green Tribunal (NGT).The facility is estimated to have cost nearly Rs. 51 crore.
The activists, in their petition, contended that the UP pollution control board should be directed not to grant NOC for construction on the three land chunks. The construction over the land chunks should be demolished and area restored to original form. The Haj House is constructed adjacent to river Hindon.
“We make it clear that any steps taken or construction done in the meanwhile shall be subject to the orders of the Tribunal passed in this application,” the NGT said in its September 2 order while issuing notices to eight respondents of the petition.
The activists, however, said that they were not against the construction but their move was only to protect the river.
“On one hand, the state government is trying to revive river Hindon while on the other, the officials are going ahead with constructions on floodplains. We will oppose any construction in the river zone,” Akash Vashistha, an activist from Society for Protection of Environment & Biodiversity, said.
However, the recent petition is not the only one against the Haj House. In 2005, a city resident Mahesh Ahuja, who is also a member of Shiv Sena, had moved civil court against the construction near river Hindon.
“We do not oppose the Haj House or the Haj pilgrims. We oppose the site chosen for the construction. It was proposed in 1994 at Okhla but due to some issue over the land, the site was finalised at the present spot near river Hindon. Before its foundation stone was laid, we moved civil court. But the petition is still pending and no stay has been issued,” Ahuja said.
“Since the matter is with NGT now, we will not oppose it but will try to hand over a memorandum to the chief minister during his visit,” he said.
Officials of the Construction & Design Services, a unit of UP Jal Nigam that constructed the Haj House building, said that it is spread over 4.3 acres and comprises an old and a new building complex.
“It is constructed for accommodating 1,886 persons. There are six floors besides the ground floor, 47 dormitory halls and 36 VIP rooms. There is still no facility of disposal of sewage. For the purpose, a septic tank in constructed and the corporation is responsible for its disposal,” Vikram Singh, project manager, said.