December 12, 2021 8:29:56 pm
THE AURANGABAD bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Aurangabad authorities that the memorial to honour late Bal Thackeray should come up “in the best possible manner by greenery and the biodiversity being preserved”.
The memorial is likely to be completed by December 2022.
The HC suggested the formation of a committee headed by Aurangabad Divisional Commissioner, composed of District Collector, Municipal Commissioner/Administrator along with environmental experts among others to ensure the preservation of ecology in the said area.
The court passed an order while hearing a PIL raising concerns over cutting of a large number of trees in a garden for establishing the memorial, claiming that the same would cause serious damage to the ecological environment. The bench also enumerated detailed guidelines pertaining to construction, access and maintenance of the memorial.
A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Sanjay G Mehere in a previous hearing in the PIL by one Yogesh Raosaheb Bharsakhale had noted that all parties to the PIL should ensure the memorial is brought up in a “splendid manner”. The bench had considered a report submitted by a panel of three lawyers, who visited the site.
It had asked the authorities to ensure the greenery in the Priyadarshini Udyan area, where the memorial is being constructed, is enhanced by protecting existing trees and planting new trees.
On December 8, the court observed that while there are several non-native species of trees, including Nilgiri, Gulmohar, Subabhul, Giri Pushpa etc available inside the premises — which have a shorter span of life and do not contribute to the flourishing of biodiversity — they need not be chopped or up-rooted at this stage.
“We direct that these trees shall live their normal life span and only when they die or has grown in a dangerous manner, which is likely to cause harm to human beings, that such a tree could be replaced with a native tree. It would enable the greenery to be maintained, and such trees would be able to live their normal life span,” the bench noted.
It added, “We do not doubt that all involved in this PIL have a common will and desire that the memorial should come up in the best possible manner and should be a tourist attraction. In this endeavour to ensure that the greenery is maintained and bio-diversity is preserved.”
While the lawyer for the civic body sought disposal of the PIL, the court refused to accept the request stating that it would not dispose of the plea until the entire project is complete as it would continue to invite suggestions from the stakeholders.
The bench also laid down the guidelines stating that there should not be any food court or special VIP entrance gate in the premises and directed changing location of toilets, erection of street lamps, installation of CCTV and sufficient security to avoid untoward incidents in future.
It also directed the authorities to make internal walking tracks of 12.5 feet (nearly 4 meters) instead of 20 feet to avoid unnecessary use of land, plantation of native trees, provision of food and nests (shelters) for birds, prohibition of picnic/parties or smoking, consumption chewing tobacco, gutkha and other intoxicants inside the premises.
The HC posted further hearing in the matter to December 17.
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