‘The Court can take judicial notice of the fact about the degradation of environment and ecology made after the promulgation of the First Master Plan, since the year 2008 till 2018 is irreparable and the same cannot be compensated in terms of money’
The Uttarakhand High Court has quashed Master Plan for Mussoorrie & Dehradun which was notified by the state without seeking approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
A division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh observed that irreparable degradation of environment and ecology has been made after the promulgation of the First Master Plan and imposed exemplary damages of Rs. 5 lakh for failing to protect the environment and ecology of the Doon Valley. The bench was considering a PIL filed by Satish Chandra Ghildiyal in this regard.
The bench observed that there is callousness, insensitivity in the approach adopted by the state authorities which, instead of vigorously pursuing the matter to get the approval/sanction from the Central Government, notified the master plan in the year 2008.
As per the 1988 notification issued considering the fragile eco-system of Doon Valley and to ensure that development activities are consistent with the principles of environmental conservation, the master plan/land use plan of the entire area was to be prepared by the state government and it was to be approved by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests.
“It is in gross violation of notification dated 6.10.1988. The State Government has not shown due sensitivity to the environmental degradation in Doon Valley. There is degradation of environment and ecology. All of us are affected adversely. The climate change has already taken place. It is not understandable why the State Government has notified the Master Plan which is the Magna Carta for the urbanization on scientific lines by adopting the zoning principles without seeking approval from the Central Government. The entire exercise undertaken by the respondent-State of not getting sanction/approval from the Central Government, as per Notification dated 6.10.1988 is illegal,” the bench observed.
The court directed the state government to take up the matter with the Central Government for the approval of master plan, but observed that while preparing the new master plan, the land under the “Tea Garden” in Dehradun shall not be converted to any other use and its status shall be maintained.