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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Finally, UT gets tough against Acropolis

Shailee Dogra , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 06, 2013
First Published: 00:14 IST(6/7/2013) | Last Updated: 00:15 IST(6/7/2013)

Having faced flak for failing to act against owners and promoters of Acropolis, a project of Mirage Infra Limited, for alleged violations under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), the Chandigarh pollution control committee finally moves court.

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This is the first time that the Chandigarh pollution control committee has moved court seeking prosecution of a company for violating the EPA. It is the first-of-its-kind case of violations under the EPA and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006, in the city.

Considering the petition filed by Chandigarh pollution control committee member secretary PJS Dadhwal, chief judicial magistrate Rajnish K Sharma has issued notice for September 26.

The petition has been filed against Chetan Singla, director of Mirage Infra Limited, who is relative of former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. Vijay Singla, another director of the firm, has been chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Rs. 90-lakh bribery case.

In a petition filed before the local court, the Chandigarh pollution control committee had sought prosecution of the promoters of Acropolis under section 15 of the EPA.

According to the petition, the company without taking mandatory environmental clearance had started the project, which was a violation of the act. As per the provision of the Act, a project cannot be started without obtaining the mandatory clearance.

The petition pointed out that the firm had constructed the framework of the ground floor plus three floors without environment clearance. After the violations were spotted, the firm was directed to stop construction work and they had given an undertaking that no violation would be repeated in future.

According to sources, showing scant respect for the directions, the firm continued with the construction work following which the committee received a complaint about work in progress. Thus, a team of the committee raided the site and found construction going on in June 2012 without any environment clearance.

The case has been filed on the basis of the recommendations made by the Environment Impact Assessment Authority (EIAA) of Chandigarh and the legal remembrancer of the administration.
In his opinion, the legal remembrancer had also conveyed to the administration that a case should be registered against the owners.

Acropolis is promoted by Mirage Infra Limited, a sister concern of JTL Infra Limited (formerly Jagan Tubes Limited). In 2008, Singlas had purchased an industrial plot from Modern Bread in the Industrial Area. He then applied for the conversion of the plot for the Acropolis project under the conversion policy of the UT.


Project at a glance

* Acropolis -a commercial project spread over an area of 16,081 square metres, having built-up area of 52,959 square metres

* Estimated cost of the project Rs. 175 crore

* Building to have two basements, ground floor and seven upper floors, consisting of one hotel having 84 rooms and three multiplexes with 648 seats

* Project launched in 2011 with expected completion time of two years.


What does the Act says

*Any person found violating Environment Protection Act (EPA) is liable for prosecution under section 15, which stipulates imprisonment that may extend to five years along with fine which may extend to Rs. 1 lakh or both.

*Additional fine which may extend to Rs. 5,000 per day can be imposed after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention.

*If the failure or contravention continues beyond a period of one year after the date of contravention, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to seven years.

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