Multilevel basement parking lot near Punjab and Haryana high court likely to get green signal
The proposed multilevel basement parking in the vicinity of Punjab and Haryana high court (HC), which falls within the Sukhna eco-sensitive zone (SESZ), is likely to get a green signal as it falls within the “regulated” zone of the SESZ where construction is allowed.
The UT environment department has communicated to the UT engineering department that even though the project falls within the SESZ, construction is allowed there as per the SESZ norms and court orders.
Confirming the development, Debendra Dalai, director environment, said, “The site of construction is located 1.66 km from the boundary of the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary, where construction is a regulated activity.”
Up to 0.5 km from the sanctuary, there can not be any construction. From 0.5 km to 1.25 km, a construction up to 15 ft is permitted. Beyond 1.25 km, construction is allowed and it is to be regulated as per the building bylaws.
A ‘regulated’ zone means that “whatever building laws and rules are applicable for any other area are also applicable for this area. So far as eco-sensitive zone is concerned it does not come under the restricted zone but only a regulated zone, so the proposed parking can be constructed,” said a senior UT official who didn’t want to be named.
The engineering department had recently shared the exact location and size of the proposed site with the environment department. A meeting had also taken place between the two departments on October 23, in which UT urban planning department officials had also participated. The engineering department has also sought the exact geographical coordinates from the environment department of the SESZ in relation to the site.
On December 20, 2019, the HC had directed the UT administration to submit the layout plan for the proposed multi-level underground parking lot opposite the high court museum within four weeks.
The HC directions had come after the administration official had submitted that the site falls within the SESZ. The bench, however, was of the view that if parking can’t be constructed, how could a tourist information centre come up on the same site. It further observed that amendments could be made in the master plan and questioned as to how a green belt could come under heritage status.
The proposed site also “slightly” falls within the Sukhna catchment area where all construction activity is prohibited. “As the court has ordered no construction in the catchment area, the administration will have to approach it for clarification on this issue,” the official said.
The site falls in the buffer zone of UNESCO World Heritage Site of Capitol Complex. “UT administration may have to apprise and take consent from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to undertake the construction work in Sector 1,” the official said.
In the Chandigarh Master Plan-2031, the site is earmarked as a green belt.
The parking plan
As per the layout plan submitted with the HC in January this year, three underground floors are planned. In the first phase, the parking lot will have space for over 2,800 cars. In the second phase, installation of stacks has been proposed. With that, the parking could be expandable to over 5,000 cars. The ground level of the parking lot will be a green area. Ramps for exit and entry of vehicles to the basement parking spaces will be the only construction on it.