Hearing a plea by the Delhi University, the National Green Tribunal today halted the proposed construction of a residential complex next to its North Campus. The university had challenged the environmental clearance granted to the project, which is being built by Young Builders Pvt Ltd. Newslaundry has reported how the public land on which the building is proposed to be built was likely illegally sold to private interests.
When construction work started on the skyscraper in November, it was met with a series of protests by Delhi University’s student and teachers.
“No further construction activity may be undertaken and status quo as on today may be maintained,” a bench led by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the tribunal’s chairperson, said. “It will be permissible for the applicant as well as the project proponent to furnish their viewpoint to Member Secretary, CPCB, for consideration by the Committee within two weeks.” CPCB refers to the Central Pollution Control Board, which has been designated the nodal agency for coordination and compliance in this matter.
In its plea, the university pointed out that the project fell inside the “silence zone”, barely 100 metres from an education institution and a hospital, Patel Chest Institute, as well as in the water scarcity zone. “The environmental clearance can, therefore, be granted by the Ministry of Environment but not by the SEIAA,” the plea argued, referring to the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority.
As per the builder’s own report, the skyscraper would be susceptible to subsidence and liquefaction during a major earthquake. “A geotechnical investigation needs to be carried out which has not been done. Traffic plans filed by the project proponent with the application is based on the statistics of July 2011,” the plea added.
Asked about the green tribunal’s order, Tanya Sujan, a student at the university, said, “Although construction being halted is a relief, it must be ensured that the case is pursued properly without bias. There’s a lot that can be done with the land for the students, instead of giving it away to a private builder to harm the decorum of this campus.”