The National Green Tribunal has directed a private developer to deposit a RS 68,51,250, as interim environmental compensation with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for construction on green/open area in a housing complex.
A bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel gave the direction while hearing a plea filed by Anil Upal and others, all residents of Ambiance Lagoon Apartment, a housing complex at National Highway No. 8 Gurgaon, Haryana. The developer Ambiance Developers & Infrastructure Private Limited, has to deposit the amount within one month.
The residents claimed that "Out of 10.98 acre land which was meant for the project in question, only 7.93 acre land was used and remaining 3.05 acre land, which was open area, was converted into covered area for a commercial tower, irreversibly taking away the rights to ecological services of the persons to whom the flats were allotted."
It was also said that open areas in the colony were shrinking. Ground water extraction was excessive. Air quality was getting deteriorated. The builder had undertaken construction on designed open spaces, blocking the fresh air and sunlight. The approved zoning plans required maintaining at least 15% of the total area as open space. National Building Code of India, 2005 also requires minimum horizontal space between existing building and the new building.
In 2016, a status report filed by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board, and the Department of Town and Country Planning, stated that there was no violation as regards, green/open areas. However, the residents opposed the same by saying that the green area did not exist on the ground and the report was furnished without actual site visit. The Tribunal thus appointed a local Commissioner to visit the site and furnish a report.
The local commissioner reported that "Area no 10, which was green area as per layout plan was occupied by a nursery school, Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) and electric substation. Area no. 11 which was also shown as green area did not exist. Part of area no. 11 was covered by a road and part of it was occupied by a flat. Ready mix concrete carrying trucks were found plying high decibel noise. The STP was found engulfed in foam."
The developer argued that "The project was integrated with a larger project called 'Ambiance Island' and the total green area of 15% was being maintained meaning thereby that there could be no objection to original green area being occupied. Necessary approvals were granted."
The residents raised several objections on the report of the local commissioner, by saying "The open area could not be have been converted into covered area which is in violation of environmental law. Any approval granted without considering impact on the environmental rights of the persons to whom the flats were allotted is against Sustainable Development and Precautionary Principles required to be enforced by this Tribunal."
Further, the compensation amount was objected to by saying that "Loss to ecological services on account of illegal commercial constructions in open areas. Illegal benefit taken by the builder was required to be quantified and recovered which has not been done. Alternatively, the area needs to be restored, after demolishing illegal constructions."
Following which the tribunal said "Question whether illegal construction is to be demolished or the compensation quantified may need to be gone into." For which it allowed the parties to file written submissions specifying questions for constitution of an appropriate Expert Committee to go into the matter. The applicant may file the same within one week from today (January 9) and by the Respondents within one week thereafter.
Advocate Kanika Agnihotri and Advocate Amer Vaid, appeared for petitioners.
Shashank Saxena and Ankita Choudhary, Advocate for CGWA
Balendu Shekhar, Advocate for MoEF&CC
Tanmaya Sharma, Advocate for R-6 (developer)
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