The plea of the Punjab government that it is empowered to regulate development under the Periphery Control Act did not go down well with the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Court today remarked that there is a lot of mischief done in Nayagaon under Section 10 of the Periphery Control Act.
The counsel for Punjab had raised this averment during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Aalok Jagga challenging the much debated Tata Housing Camelot project. To counter the averment of the petitioner,who had said that the Periphery Control Act has been violated by the company,the counsel for Punjab government today said that the State was empowered under Section 10 of the Act to regulate development.
Meanwhile,Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi,who appeared for the Tata firm,today took a dig at the Chandigarh Administration for showering selective affection against Tata Housing Development Company. Dubbing the UT the proxy petitioner in the PIL,Singhvi said that the timing of the crocodile tears shed by the bleeding hearts of Chandigarh needs to be questioned by the Court.
Contending that the Coordination Committee has only an advisory role to play,Singhvi asked if the panel was so serious about the developments in the periphery,why it did not hold a meeting since 1998. He said that it was a case where Tata is being prosecuted for following the law.
Contrary to Punjabs stand,Singhvi said that the Periphery Control Act does not apply to the land where the project is coming up. He said that the Nayagaon Master Plan overrides everything. Contending that the Administration is being selective in its protests,Singhvi averred as to how the authorities have now woken up in 2011 and why the UT did not object to the coming up of the Rajiv Gandhi IT park.
Appearing on behalf of Hash Builders,the builders for the Tatas,senior lawyer Rajiv Atma Ram said that the biggest encroachment is the Mansa Devi Complex,Sector 2,which is just 100 yards from the Sukhna Lake. He pointed out that the website of Administration itself shows that no part of the catchment area falls in Punjab. The counsel added that the catchment area has changed. This was stated in response to the petitioners allegation that Tata Camelot is coming up in the catchment area of the Lake.
Senior standing counsel for the UT Administration Sanjay Kaushal said that there is an error in the Chandigarh Administrations site. Denying that the catchment area has changed,he said,The catchment area can only change in case of a natural disaster. He added that the catchment area is never notified.
Concluding the arguments,Advocate D S Patwalia drew the attention of the Court towards the documents and agreements between MLAs and Tata to contend that the Nayagaon Master Plan was tailor-made and engineered to benefit the Tatas.
Patwalia alleged that eight months after the land,belonging to Punjab MLAs which was purchased by Tata Housing Company,the Punjab government issued the draft master plan for Nayagaon declaring the land,meant for agricultural purposes,as residential. This charge was,however,vehemently denied by Singhvi.