The Supreme Court quashed the clearance obtained for a Tata housing project near Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary and observed that such projects cannot be permitted to come up within a short distance from the wildlife sanctuary.
The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra, Justice MR Shah and Justice BR Gavai upheld a Delhi High Court judgment that refused to permit the construction of a housing project of Tata Housing Development Company Ltd., 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 bench observed that the State of Punjab was required to act on the basis of Doctrine of Public Trust and it did not because 95 MLAs were to be the recipients of the flats. In its judgment, the bench expressed its concern about environmental and wildlife degeneration. It said:
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. 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. The climate change is impacting wildlife by disrupting the timing of natural events. With warmer temperatures, flowering plants are blooming earlier in the year and migratory birds are returning from their wintering grounds earlier in the spring.
While dismissing the appeal, the bench further noted the judgments on the Doctrine of Public Trust and also said:
"The human as well as the wildlife are completely dependent upon environment for their survival. Human is completely dependent on the environment. Like the human, the wild life is also dependent on the environment for it's survival and also get effected by the environment. The relationship between the human and animal can be understood by the food-chain and food-web. The wildlife is affected by several reasons such as population, deforestation, urbanization, high number of industries, chemical effluents, unplanned land¬use policies, and reckless use of natural resources etc."