HC to look into al­leged eco dam­age by de­vel­oper of Chan­di­vli town­ship

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Shibu.Thomas@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: The Bom­bay high court is look­ing into al­le­ga­tions that a 182-acre town­ship com­ing up in Chan­di­vli has flouted en­vi­ron­men­tal norms. A divi­sion bench of Jus­tices Ab­hay Oka and Riyaz Chagla con­verted a PIL filed by a res­i­dent of the town­ship into a suo motu pe­ti­tion.

The court was hear­ing a plea by de­vel­oper Na­har Builders, which is con­struct­ing Am­rit Shakti Town­ship, that pe­ti­tioner Prakash Agrawal should not have filed the PIL as he was a res­i­dent in one of the build­ings at the town­ship.

The bench agreed that Agrawal had per­sonal in­ter­est in the mat­ter and there­fore could not pur­sue the PIL. But it de­clined the plea that the pe­ti­tion should not be en­ter­tained at all. It said it would ap­point an am­i­cus cu­riae (friend of court) to as­sist the bench on the next date of hear­ing, sched­uled for Au­gust 31.

“In fact, af­ter hav­ing pe­rused the aver­ments and prayers made in this PIL, we find that sev­eral is­sues are re­quired to be gone into in the case of such a huge project. The is­sue of ab­sence of en­v­i­ron- Bom­bay High Court men­tal clear­ance will also have to be gone into,” said the judges.

“We are of the view that though the pe­ti­tioner may not have lo­cus, this PIL will have to be con­sid­ered on mer­its. Con­sid­er­ing the huge na­ture of the project… sev­eral is­sues con­cern­ing the en­vi­ron­ment will have to be gone into,” the high court judges said.

Am­rit Shakti Town­ship is spread on an area that is the equiv­a­lent of eight Oval Maid­ans. The PIL, filed ear­lier this year, had al­leged that be­tween 2004 and 2017, the de­vel­oper made con­struc­tions with­out en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance and so­cial im­pact as­sess­ment. The pe­ti­tion claimed a hillock in the area had been cut, re­duc­ing its size from 18.5 acres to 7.4 acres. The pe­ti­tioner had urged the court to di­rect the de­vel­oper to pro­vide a recre­ation ground, amenity spa­ces, De­vel­op­ment Plan roads, and solid waste man­age­ment and sewage treat­ment plants. The pe­ti­tion sought the restora­tion of the hillock as well as a car­bon se­ques­tra­tion study.

“Though the is­sue of ab­sence of en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance is ag­i­tated be­fore the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal, still, this court can con­sider the said is­sue, which goes to the root of the mat­ter,” said the high court judges.

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