Pollution control body to assess common areas in Sushant Lok 1
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is likely to carry out an inspection of Sushant Lok-1 within the next two weeks to assess how much of the 600-acre colony’s common and green areas have been lost to encroachment and new constructions, as part of legal proceedings initiated by a resident.
The move comes on the heels of fresh instructions by the apex pollution control body, which instructed the developer, Ansal Properties & Infrastructure, to pay Rs 14 crore in compensation for the violation of environmental norms. The CPCB, on June 18, also ordered the discom to stop electricity supply, and the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) to stop water supply, to the developer for any new construction work in the area. Environmental clearances and completion certificates granted to the project are also set to be rescinded.
CPCB scientist Rajesh Debroy, who is co-ordinating the matter, said, “In keeping with the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) instructions, an assessment of green areas and common areas needs to be made. It will be done in the next two weeks.”
These proceedings stem from a petition filed by a resident, Praveen Kakkar, in September 2018, in which he alleged that there has been widespread encroachment of the colony’s green and common areas, in addition to other environment law violations. According to the Haryana Development of Urban Areas Act, 45% of the colony’s notified area should be reserved for common use, such as roads, parks, community centres and so on.
“Residents in Sushant Lok had been raising the issue of disappearing common spaces with authorities for years before we went ahead with our petition. According to our own assessment, only about 90 acres of the earmarked 270 acres are remaining,” Yatish Kumar Goel, advocate for the petitioner, said.
In its September 19 order, the NGT had asked an expert committee to consider these allegations, along with those of illegal groundwater extraction, mismanagement of sewage and illegal constructions. While the committee’s investigation has yielded at least 10 other counts of environment law violation, residents and petitioners said the CPCB-led committee has overlooked one of the main premises of the petition.
“The NGT has commendably affirmed various other violations, but the CPCB-led committee has overlooked the matter of disappearing commons. Some sort of on ground exercise is needed to settle the issue,” said Neelu Singh, a resident.
A member of the NGT-appointed expert committee, requesting anonymity, said, “We did not carry out any demarcation exercise because we did not have the infrastructure to do so. The original layout maps were also not available with the town and country planning department.” Debroy responded, saying, “I am not sure why the exercise was not carried out by the expert committee, but the CPCB will now independently corroborate all the violations it has noted. The assessment of green areas will be conducted simultaneously,” he added.