Friday, November 23, 2012
23 Nov 2012 :: Hindustan Times (Chandigarh), Bathinda Edition, Page 3
FEROZEPUR: The Supreme Court central empowered committee dealing with forest and wildlife matters has sent its second notice to the state chief secretary about the sale of prime government property for a proposed residential colony. Navdeep Asija, a social activist who took the matter to the committee, also submitted that the district forest officer and state forest and wildlife preservation department reports had ignored the threat to the environment and biodiversity of the Badha lake in Fazilka region, if 400 old trees on its banks were cut to clear the space for 56 residential plots.
On the proposed colony of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), the committee already has sent a notice to the CS on the various legalisation and environmental norms. The government property that was part of the wetland was sold under the non-legislative Optimum Use of Vacant Government Land scheme. No reply to the earlier notice was filed; hence, another notice has now been issued.
The Punjab and Haryana high court had disposed of the case based on an affidavit by the chief conservator officer, state forest and wild life preservation department, that the department had nothing to do with the land in question. This in spite of the fact that a 400 feet by 60 feet reserved forest along the Alam Shah minor would pass right thorough the middle of the colony. The project is not approved by the state pollution control board, which should ask for compensatory forestation. The green belt in Fazilka city is less than 1% and there's no provision to increase it. The existing green cover is under threat to facilitate unplanned development.
"It's clear PUDA is doing it to favor the land mafia," said complainant Navdeep Asija. "The colony project will jack up the price of the agricultural land nearby."
The local body responsible for the development of the city had proposed restoration of Badha lake under a master plan through resolution but PUDA took no approval from it before coming out with the colony project. "The government seems to be acting like property dealer but I have faith in the judiciary," said Asija.
The Supreme Court committee had sent its last notice to the CS more than a year ago, on August 9, 2011. The committee's role is to check the unsustainable cutting of forests and the threat of massive destruction of wildlife habitats.
at 10:35 AM