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2010 Games: environment panel hauls up DDA for Siri Fort projects

Beleagured by the recent housing scam,the Delhi Development Authority came under more fire at the Supreme Court on Friday for its decision to construct an indoor stadium inside the Siri Fort Complex.

Written by Tannu Sharma | New Delhi |
January 24, 2009 1:15:32 am

Beleagured by the recent housing scam,the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) came under more fire at the Supreme Court on Friday for its decision to construct an indoor stadium inside the Siri Fort Complex.

A high-powered environmental panel — or the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) — came down heavily on the development agency. The CEC was directed by the apex court earlier to check the rationale behind building such a stadium. The DDA had kept in mind the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

The CEC found the project suffered from “serious pitfalls”.

The CEC stated: “At the outset,it should have never been taken up at the present location as it involved felling of a huge number of trees with all its inevitable serious adverse environmental impact,including the destruction of the massive green areas.”

The CEC criticised the DDA for its “mindless planning” and for “destroying” an area that was not only lush green but was also well stocked with trees. In all probability,the area would have been in the category of a “deemed forest.”

Senior advocate Harish Salve,referring to the CEC’s report,urged the bench — comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan,Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia — to take stringent action against those responsible for this project.

“A lesson must be taught to them,” Salve argued. He was supported by advocate M L Lahoty,who had approached the court at first — aggrieved by the DDA’s decision to construct a new indoor sports complex for the Games.

Besides putting together basketball and squash courts,the DDA is also in a hurry to complete an underground parking for

850 vehicles.

The panel found the parking lot might not even be used,during or after the Games,because of “security considerations”. The CEC termed it a “wasteful expenditure”. “It would put the final seal of destruction of the greenery forever and also ensure perennial disturbance to large number of residents of the area.”

Acceding to the fears raised by the CEC,Justice Pasayat asked the counsel for the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee: “Suppose you are awarded a contract,would you not comply with the norms required under law?”

After the CEC indicted DDA for its “complete lack of sensitivity” in cutting down over 800 trees — some more than 100 years old — the Bench allowed the Games organising committee and others to file their response to the CEC’s report within a week. The matter comes up next Friday.

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