Saturday, March 3, 2012

HC for status quo on Fazilka colony site

Our Correspondent
Fazilka, March 2 2012

The Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) that had worked out an "ambitious" plan to carve out a housing colony in an ecologically sensitive area of Fazilka suffered a setback as a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted status quo on the proposed site in a contempt of court case filed by a local resident, Navdeep Asija.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Mahesh Grover directed the state government to maintain status quo on the piece of land proposed to be used for carving out a colony. It may be mentioned that the PUDA had decided to construct a colony in the wetland area of Badha lake on the outskirts of Fazilka in an eco-sensitive zone.

The division bench has passed the orders against the allotment of 56 plots by the PUDA to the purchasers against the original court orders, leaving them bewildered. Notably, PUDA has not handed over the possession of the plots to the purchasers so far.

The counsels for the petitioners, APS Shergill and Balpreet Sidhu pleaded in the court that more than 400 odd exotic trees are there at the proposed location and the allotment of plots would not only involve a third party but also allow them to axe the trees immediately after handing over the possession.

Notably, Asija had filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in July 2011 against setting up of a PUDA colony in the ecologically fragile zone and the wetland area. While admitting the petition, the court had directed PUDA not to initiate proceedings till further orders of the court.

"However, in violation of the court directive, the PUDA auctioned 56 plots on February 27 this year without taking any consent from the court," said Asija.

Upon this, Asija filed a contempt of court petition. On the basis of the pleas of the counsels of Asija, the High Court directed the Punjab government to maintain status quo. The representatives of different NGOs who initiated the Chipko Andolan by hugging the trees have welcomed the decision of the High Court.

"This is a welcome step as the court has helped us in saving the trees from being axed, in the larger interest of mankind," said an activist associated with the movement, Lachhman Dost. The next date of hearing in the case is March 21.

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