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Forest Ministry asks SC to permit construction of malls

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 8 (UNI) The Union Environment and Forest Ministry expert committee has recommended to the Supreme Court that the five big shopping malls in Vasant Kunj Ridge area of the Cpital can be permitted to complete the construction work subject to imposition of penalty for starting the work without obtaining environmental clearence in cotravention to the notification of July 2004.

According to the affidavit, filed by Dr N H Hosabettu, Director, Ministry of Environment and Forest, construction of the shopping malls should not be stopped at this stage since, ''many proponents have contructed very substantially and awarding clearances even with conditions is largely a compromise with de-facto situation and at this stage only damage control is possible.'' The Delhi Development Authoity (DDA) had auctioned plots measuring 92 hectares referred to as ''constraint area''. This area includes institutional plots, hill-view apartments, Kusumpur village, Unison hotel, offices and shopping malls. The area is reserved for forest land.

The DDA has taken all necessary steps to provide all basic amenities like water, electricity and roads for the development of the area in which these big malls are to be constructed.

The affidavit also says use of solar panels/ cells on roof-tops will be considered subject to no objection certificate from the Airport Authotirty of India as it falls in the air funnel area.

The area is located near Nelson Mandela Road.

A Division Bench, comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S H Kapadia, adjourned the hearing till next month.

Earlier, counsel for the petitioner, ''Ridge Bachao Andolan'', Prashant Bhushan strongly opposed the plea of the Central government that the construction of the malls might be given green signal by the apex court.

He alleged that they removed slum dwellers, JJ clusters but when the big fishes were involved all civic amenities were provided with unprecedented speed and even the public interest of damage to environment in the area were ignored.

Notably, the Supreme Court had earlier stayed the construction on the application of ''Ridge Bachao Andolan''.


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