Centre U-turn: Maya park ‘beautification’

In the latest flip-flop on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s Noida Park,the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests..

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi | Published: August 20, 2010 2:28:38 am

In the latest flip-flop on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s Noida Park,the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests said on Thursday that her dream project is nothing short of an “area development activity” to beautify the locality,hardly requiring the Centre’s environmental clearance.

The stand is a marked departure from a July 20 affidavit from the ministry that Mayawati’s 33.43-hectare memorial is so “complex” that an “integrated and holiistic” environment impact assessment is a must.

However,in today’s affidavit to the Supreme Court,Jairam Ramesh’s ministry said that the project is only an “area development” exercise meant to beautify the locality.

“If you were to classify the same in respect of the extent of area development,then the project comes under Clause 8B (area development activity) of the Enviornment Impact Assessment notification,” it said. The affidavit is coming up for hearing tomorrow before the green bench led by CJI S H Kapadia.

Over 6,000 trees have been felled to make way for the approximately 48,000 sq m of concrete pavements adorning the park,dedicated to Dalit leaders. The site also lacks a buffer zone separating the construction area from the nearby ecologically sensitive Okhla Bird Sanctuary.

The Supreme Court asked last week whether the park is an “area development activity” or a mere construction of a building. If the former,the Supreme Court had said,the park is on par with national landmarks like the India Gate.

To justify its stance,the ministry said today that the construction undertaken is only for the “development of a park”,with a built-up area of 6,999 sq m on a total land area of 33.43 hectares.

It further says that the park’s environmental impact would be so minimum that it does not even call for the ministry’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification.

The affidavit today flies in the face of an October 9,2009 ban on construction by the Supreme Court on the recommendation of the Centrally-Empowered Committee that the project is ecologically harmful.

On July 20,2010,the ministry had said: “Given the gravity of the matter concerned… the Environment Ministry needs to get the measures recommended by three institutions,whetted by an appropriate body possessing the requisite expertise,particularly in the field of wildlife preservation and biodiversity.”

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