The Punjab and Haryana high court stays cutting and uprooting of trees for Tribune Flyover project
The HC bench of chief justice RS Jha and justice Rajiv Sharma also directed the Chandigarh administration and governments of Punjab and Haryana to constitute a committee under the chairmanship of UT adviser, with members nominated by both the chief secretaries, to look for solutions to deal with the traffic problem of the city in general and the stretch between Tribune Chowk and Zirakpur in particular, so that trees could be saved.Updated: Nov 21, 2019 00:52 IST
Chandigarh The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday stayed the uprooting and cutting of trees for the Tribune flyover project.
The HC bench of chief justice RS Jha and justice Rajiv Sharma also directed the Chandigarh administration and governments of Punjab and Haryana to constitute a committee under the chairmanship of UT adviser, with members nominated by both the chief secretaries, to look for solutions to deal with the traffic problem of the city in general and the stretch between Tribune Chowk and Zirakpur in particular, so that trees could be saved. The court also observed that there was a need to explore whether there are alternatives to this flyover to deal with congestion.
While constituting the committee, court observed traffic comes from Punjab and Haryana and without involving them it is difficult to come up with a solution.
The 1.6km long flyover is to be built from near the GMCH-32 roundabout up to the railway overbridge on Dakshin Marg after passing over Tribune Chowk. It was on March 3 that UT administrator VP Singh Badnore had laid the foundation stone of the ₹184 crore project. It was being touted as a solution to traffic mess witnessed in the vicinity of Tribune Chowk. Around 1.43 lakh vehicles cross the rotaries on Dakshin Marg and Purv Marg near Tribune Chowk on a daily basis. The UT forest department had approved the felling of 472 trees, out of which 143 were to be uprooted.
The HC acted on the plea of a local NGO, The Run Club, which has challenged the proposal of Chandigarh administration to cut trees for the project. The NGO had sought urgent hearing on Wednesday morning after reports in media that cutting and uprooting of trees is to start from Wednesday.
The court has also asked the UT to come out with a public notice seeking suggestions from general public so that trees could be saved. The bench even observed that the project was being implemented in violation of Master Plan 2031. “The court has stayed uprooting and cutting of the trees,” UT’s senior standing counsel Pankaj Jain said after the hearing. However, the detailed order is yet to come.
Earlier, the NGO’s counsel, senior advocate Puneet Bali, had told court that the UT had started marking the trees for axing them and could initiate felling of trees anytime. Hence, court should intervene and stay the process.
“These are mature tees and were planted in a planned manner. Cutting of these trees would cause irreparable harm to environment. The plan to replant (them) is not a feasible alternative, (as) efforts in the past to ensure replantation of trees have miserably failed,” Bali had told court.
Bali had also told court that the project did not have the nod from the heritage panel of the city, which was mandatory, and further there was no mention of this flyover in the Master Plan 2031. “Flyovers constructed in several parts of the world in ’60s and ’70s are being brought down due to environmental concerns. Seoul and Dhaka, among others, are examples where flyovers were dismantled. It just shifts traffic congestion from one place to another,” Bali told court, adding that the project would spoil the city’s character, “which we can’t afford”.
Meanwhile, the horticulture wing of UT engineering department on Wednesday undertook identification of trees for transplantation. The identification process was to continue on Thursday as well.
PROJECT SO FAR
June 2016: Centre approves project
Dec 2017: Mumbai-based consultant prepares detailed project report
July 2018: Centre objects to design, asks UT to cut down project cost
Sept 2018: UT approves revised plan and sends it to the Centre for approval
Oct 2018: Centre approves the DPR
March 2019: Foundation stone laid by UT administrator VP Singh Badnore
November 19, 2019: Work to transplant trees begins