HC says Tata can build Camelot - conditions apply
In a ruling that underlined the changing, urbanising character of Chandigarh's periphery, and also marked these areas out as a source of affordable housing, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday said the proposed Rs 1,800-crore Tata Camelot Housing Project in Kansal can come upchandigarh Updated: Mar 27, 2012 17:57 IST
In a ruling that underlined the changing, urbanising character of Chandigarh's periphery, and also marked these areas out as a source of affordable housing, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday said the proposed Rs 1,800-crore Tata Camelot Housing Project in Kansal can come up, but only if all the mandatory permissions are taken as per the law of the land, including the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act of 1952.
The project, which comes in SAS Nagar district, already lacks permission from the central government under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and has been once denied the nod under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
Now it would also need permissions under the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act 1995 from Punjab, and under the periphery act of 1952 from Punjab as well as Chandigarh UT, according to the ruling by a division bench comprising chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice Mahesh Grover that came after nearly 16 months of the filing of a public interest litigation (PIL) by advocate Aalok Jagga.
Originally, the project, which came under a cloud after persistent reporting by the media, is proposed to come up on 53.39 acres of land. It would have around 2,100 flats in 19 buildings that would have 12 to 35 floors, at no point rising beyond 92 metres. Significantly, the project has managed some key clearances, including height clearance from the defence ministry.
The bench observed that the periphery control act "does not contemplate a complete embargo on the raising of construction in the periphery". On the contrary, it said, a reading of the various provisions of the act would point to a regulatory mechanism where construction activity is permissible subject to certain checks and balances.
"The court also cannot be oblivious to the fact that the periphery of Chandigarh, which initially comprised of villages, may have essentially lost its rural character and the country-cousin inched closer to its city compatriot in some ways… and these villages have become a source of cheap and affordable housing to those who cannot afford to bear the expenses of the city," the bench observed.
Justifying the applicability of the 1952 periphery act as well as the 1995 Punjab planning act to the project, the bench did "not see any conflict" in the application of the two statutes to the areas that fall in the periphery of Chandigarh and immediately beyond it.
"Rather we are of the view that the periphery control act as well as the 1995 act should be given strict effect to ensure regulated development in the peripheral area as well as in the immediate vicinity of such area," held the bench.
MATTER AND THE PRICE
Tata Housing Company and Hash Builders propose to develop the project. It purchased around 21.2 acres in Kansal from the 129-member Punjab MLAs' society, called the Punjabi Cooperative House Building Society, and around 31 acres from the Defence Services Society, which had 130-odd members, in 2006. The proposed cost of a two-bedroom flat was pegged at Rs 1 crore. A three-bedroom could set you back by as much as Rs 1.5 crore.
November 17, 2010: HC takes suo motu notice of a news item and also issued notices on a PIL filed against the project
January 20, 2011: HC orders stay of the project
January 13, 2012: On Tata's plea, Supreme Court orders HC chief justice to dispose of the case at the earliest
February 15, 2012: HC reserves its judgment
March 26, 2012: HC disposes of the PIL with directions
Grounds taken to challenge project
Falls in eco-sensitive, protected area within 10 km of Chandigarh; also within Sukhna Lake's catchment area and affects Sukhna wildlife sanctuary
Sanction refused under Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; violation of Environment (Protection) Act 1986
Against the vision of Chandigarh's architect Le Corbusier; will adversely affect UT's claim to World Heritage City status. Permissions under Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act 1952 not obtained
Punjab MLAs' society sold land to the builders under dubious circumstances
Approval of zoning plan and building plan from Nayagaon nagar panchayat .
Height clearance from union ministry of defence.
Central Ground Water Authority nod.
No-objection certificate from Punjab forest department.
No-objection certificate from fire officer, SAS Nagar.
Nod from central govt under Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
Permissions under Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act 1952 from Punjab as well as Chandigarh and under Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act 1995 from Punjab
LAW OF THE LAND
Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act 1952
It came into force when Chandigarh was in the process of being developed as a capital of Punjab. The aim was to prevent unregulated and haphazard growth around the city. It covers Punjab's area adjacent to and within a distance of 10 miles (16 km) on all sides from the outer boundary of the land acquired for Chandigarh known as controlled area. Permits erection or re-erection of any building in the controlled area in accordance with the plans and restrictions and with the previous permission of the deputy commissioner.
Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act 1995
The act, which is applicable to whole of Punjab, came into force to make provision for better planning, preparation of regional plans, master plans and undertaking housing programmes for establishing new towns. It seeks to regulate the location, height, number of storeys and size of buildings, other structures, open spaces, use of building, structures and land.