New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the clearance given to Tata Group housing project, citing its proximity to a wildlife sanctuary.
"The most potent threat faced by the earth and human civilization as a whole, which is confronted with today, is environmental degradation and wildlife degeneration. The need to protect flora and fauna which constitutes a major portion of our ecosystem is immediate," said a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.
The apex court observed that the Punjab government acted arbitrarily and did not deliver on "doctrine of public trust".
The apex court upheld a Delhi High Court judgement, which revoked sanctions given to CAMELOT, Tata Housing Development Company Ltd (THDCL) project, spread over 52.66 acres near Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh.
The High Court observed the housing project, on the ground that the area in question falls within the catchment area of Sukhna Lake and is 123 meters away from the boundary of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.
The top court slammed the Punjab government that its 95 MLAs of the State of Punjab are the beneficiaries of the proposed project.
"The Court has to perform its duty in such a scenario when the authorities have failed to protect the wildlife sanctuary eco-sensitive zone. The entire exercise of obtaining clearance relating to the project is quashed", said the court quashing the clearance of the housing project.
THDCL has appealed against the 2017 judgement of the Delhi High Court.
"Development and urbanization coming at the cost of adversely affecting our natural surroundings will in turn impact and be the cause of human devastation as was seen in the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand and in 2018 in Kerala," observed the court.
CAMELOT housing project area, located in Mohali district, was 52.66 acres out of which 41.54 acres were to be developed for group housing. 3645 vehicles can be accommodated in the parking of the project, and the proposed maximum height of the building was to be 92.65 metres.
The court observed in view of the notification issued with respect to the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary towards the side of Chandigarh Union Territory and the fact proposal made by the Punjab Government, confining the Buffer Zone to 100 meters, has rightly not been accepted by MoEF, as the Government of Punjab as well as the MoEF, cannot be the final arbiter in the matter.
"Resultantly, we hold that such projects cannot be permitted to come up within such a short distance from the wildlife sanctuary," said the court.