The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a slew of directions for protection and restoration of Sukhna lake in Chandigarh. The court has declared the lake to be a 'juristic person' and has directed the state to pay Rs. 100 crore in its favour as exemplary damages.
The division bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu was hearing a batch of petitions filed against various problems being faced by the lake.
As per the Petitioners, deposit of silt had resulted in drying up of lake water and reduction of its original size, from about 2.5 kms in length to 1.5 kms. It was also highlighted in the petition that the Chandigarh Administration was spending money on frivolous construction around lake.
The petition also underlined the problem of loss of water space, the quality of water and problem of weeds and the Flood gates at the regulatory end in the Catchment area.
After hearing all the stakeholders, the bench has passed the following mandatory directions/declarations:
"A. The States of Punjab and Haryana are directed to pay Rs. 100 crores each as exemplary/punitive/special damages for restoration of catchment area of Sukhna Lake falling in their respective areas. This amount shall be deposited with the MoEF within a period of 3 months from today. The MoEF shall utilize the funds for restoration of Sukhna Lake by framing statutory scheme under the Environment Protection Act within a period of three months and to complete the restoration work within a period of one year thereafter on urgent basis.
B. We, by invoking our parens patriae jurisdiction, declare Sukhna Lake as legal entity/legal person/juristic person/ juridicial person/moral person/artificial person for its survival, preservation and conservation having distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. All the citizens of U.T, Chandigarh are hereby declared as loco parentis as the human face to save Sukhna Lake from extinction.
C. All commercial/residential and/or other structures constructed in the catchment area of Sukhna Lake falling in the areas of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh as delineated in the map prepared by the Survey of India on 21.9.2004 are declared illegal/unauthorized.
D. The illegal/unauthorized constructions raised in the catchment area as delineated by the Survey of India Map dated 21.9.2004 falling in the areas of States of Punjab and Haryana and UT Chandigarh are ordered to be demolished within a period of three months from today.
E. The States of Punjab and Haryana and UT Chandigarh are directed to provide alternative sites in close proximity of Chandigarh to the owners whose building maps were approved and who have constructed their buildings in the catchment area for their rehabilitation after the demolition of their houses in the catchment areas. The States of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh shall also pay compensation of Rs.25 lacs uniformally to these owners, who had got their building maps approved but constructed the houses in the catchment area of Sukhna Lake.
F. The Union Territory, Chandigarh is directed to issue final Notification declaring Sukhna Lake as Wetland under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 within a period of three months from today.
G. The States of Punjab and Haryana are directed to issue necessary Notifications for declaring Sukhna as Wetland falling in their respective areas under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 within a period of three months from today to protect fragile ecology and to support the lake eco system.
H. The MoEF is directed to notify at least 1.0 km area from the boundary of Sukhna Lake Wildlife Sanctuary as Eco-sensitive zone falling in the areas of the States of Punjab & Haryana within a period of three months.
I. The "Naya Gaon Master Plan 2021" notified vide Notification No.10/12/2008-(2LG3)/4LG3/54 on 02.01.2009 and the Development Plan called as Shri Mata Mansa Devi Urban Complex are declared illegal/void to the extent that these Maps/plans cover the areas depicted by Survey of India Map dated 21.9.2004 taken on record in CWP No.7649 of 2003 on 24.09.2004 and also approved by us by applying the principle of severability.
J. New construction is completely banned in the catchment areas as delineated in the Survey of India map dated 21.9.2004 falling in the States of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh as well as in the Sukhna Wetland, Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.
K. The Chief Secretaries of the States of Punjab, Haryana and also the Advisor, UT Chandigarh are directed to constitute High Power Committees comprising of such Officers not below the rank of Senior Secretaries to fix the responsibilities of the Officers/Officials, who have permitted such large scale unauthorized construction, more particularly in the catchment area within a period of four weeks from today. The respective S.I.Ts would complete their task within a period of three months and after fixing the responsibilities of serving/retired Officers/Officials commence disciplinary proceedings against them for permitting unauthorized construction in violation of law.
L. We direct the Union Territory, Chandigarh to ensure that the average capacity of the lake is increased by atleast about 100-150 Ha. by one-time large scale desilting (dredging) of the lake. Thereafter the capacity once created should be maintained through regular dredging. The States of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory, Chandigarh are directed to lower the storage capacity of the check dams to ensure regular flow of water into Sukhna Lake. The Union Territory, Chandigarh is further directed to ensure that there is no seepage losses in the lake and have permananent discharge measurement site about half a km upstream in the channel with automatic system to check sedimentation.
M. The States of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are also directed that no waste water/sewage flows into the river from the villages i.e Kansal, Kaimbwala and Saketri. The aquatic weeds are ordered to be removed within a period of six months from today by controlling the weeds even by using chemical methods as well as manual removal.
N. All the dog owners are required to register their dogs with the Municipal Authorities. The Municipal Authorities are required to issue tokens. The owners of the dogs must ensure that the dogs' poop must be picked up/removed and put in a bag/container to be disposed of at home in a hygienic manner.
O. The Municipal Authorities in the States of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh Authorities are directed to construct 4/5 dog pounds in their jurisdiction to house the stray dogs. The States of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh are directed to strictly enforce the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017. All the dog breeders in the States of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh should be registered. The breeding of dogs without registration is banned.
P. All the dogs being taken to streets/roads must be collared besides being leashed. The Municipal Authorities shall maintain the record of all the licensed dogs within a period of three months from today.
Q. The cartakers of dog pounds would ensure to protect the dogs from extreme wheather conditions and to maintain proper ventilation and also to provide appropriate space. All the dogs should be vaccinated and should be kept in clean environment. The surface of the pound should be cleaned regularly. There should be proper drainage and waste disposal. It should be the duty of the Administration to provide uncontaminated and palatable food in sufficient quantity. The diet should be sufficient according to the age and health of dogs. All the dogs kept in the pounds should be vaccinated against rabies preferably also against canine distemper, parvovirus, leptospirosis and viral hepatitis."
Case Title: Court on its own motion v. Chandigarh Administration (and other connected matters)
Case No.: CWP 18253/2009
Quorum: Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu
Click Here To Download Judgment