SC turns to Correa to think green on Siri Fort

Faced with a tricky choice of maintaining a balance between environment and construction,in the present case construction of squash and basket ball courts for Commonwealth Games 2010 at the Siri Fort sports complex...

Written by Tannu Sharma | New Delhi | Published: February 7, 2009 12:21:16 am

Faced with a tricky choice of maintaining a balance between environment and construction,in the present case construction of squash and basket ball courts for Commonwealth Games 2010 at the Siri Fort sports complex in South Delhi,the Supreme Court on Friday sought for help of Charles Correa,the renowned Mumbai-based architect to suggest the best ‘alternative’ ensuring minimum damage to the environment.

Correa,former chairman of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) was appointed as the “expert” who would consider the construction project at Siri Fort in totality taking into consideration even the plea of the residents welfare association to relocate the entire project.

The three-member bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan made it quite clear that its main concern was to explore the possibility of having the project at the same site without further damage to the forest where around 1,000 trees have already been cut.

“What we want is minimum damage to the environment. If anything can be salvaged,let it be done under an expert,” remarked Justice Arijit Pasayat,part of the bench that comprised Justice S H Kapadia and the CJI.

The bench,as it perused the reply of the Games Organising Committee and the DDA,wanted to know,“if there’s an alternative?”

Senior advocate Harish Salve,the amicus,strongly urged the ‘green’ bench to issue directions for relocating the entire project. However,Additional Solicitor General Amarander Sharan said,“At this stage,we cannot think of shifting it (the site for the construction of two sports stadiums).”

Even the bench realising that the damage,as pointed out by advocate M L Lahoty in his application,cannot be undone agreed,“now it would be difficult although not impossible to turn back the clock. But we are trying to save the situation.”

Salve and Lahoty,who was representing the RWA,accused the DDA of flouting all norms and established practices for construction of such complexes for a project of the nature of the Commonwealth Games. Citing the case of underground parking,which was constructed at a whopping cost of Rs 150 crore,Salve informed that the Delhi Police has objected to its use during the Games due to security concerns.

The senior advocate said the project could be relocated to the Yamuna area where the Games Village is coming up. He also wondered at the response of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games,2010,that said stopping and relocating the project would be a national shame.

The decision to appoint Correa comes a week after the apex Court had asked the DDA to “desist” from felling trees. Correa has a time of three weeks to furnish his report after the Court on Monday will elaborate on the terms of reference for him to work upon.

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