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Bhopal Smart City project: NGT orders status quo on construction work

People taking out a ‘Tree Walk’ against proposed cutting of trees due to smart city project. File photo used for representational purpose only.

People taking out a ‘Tree Walk’ against proposed cutting of trees due to smart city project. File photo used for representational purpose only.  

A Bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore issued notices to the Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited, Director-cum-Chairman of the Directorate of Town and Country Planning Madhya Pradesh and Bhopal Municipal Corporation.

The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday ordered status quo on the construction work related to Bhopal Smart City project which involves cutting of more than 6,000 trees in Tatya Tope Nagar.

A Bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore issued notices to the Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited, Director-cum-Chairman of the Directorate of Town and Country Planning Madhya Pradesh and Bhopal Municipal Corporation.

“It has been contended by the counsel for the applicant that in the map attached to the EIA (environmental impact assessment) project report shows that places such as stadium and dussehra maidan have been included as areas for development of green belt. In the meanwhile, we direct the parties to maintain the status quo as it exists today,” the Bench said.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Green and Green Lawyers contending that there will be significant air and noise pollution problems due to movement of traffic in the area due to cutting of 1,500 trees which were acting as a buffer and reducing noise and dust pollution.

The plea alleged that there have been numerous violations of environmental obligations by the project proponent in respect of smart city project in Bhopal being undertaken by Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited and Bhopal Municipal Corporation.

“There were 1,500 trees of various species and sizes planted by Forest Department during the year 1960-1970 which were cut without exploring the possibility of translocation in order to achieve the goal of Smart City Project, the respondents are seeking to destroy the entire green belt and to achieve the said purpose is removing the trees from the said plots of land and would thereby destroyed all trees on the said green belt which acts as a buffer against vehicular pollution,” the plea said.

The petition said the 10% green belt area of the layout of Bhopal Smart City should have been mandatorily available for the compensatory plantation of the native species of trees in lieu of 6,000 trees proposed to be cut.

However, it is doubtful as the T.T. Nagar Stadium and Dussehra Maidan are shown as green belt area in the smart city project where plantation is not possible and without looking at the availability of land for plantation the other project proponent, Bhopal Municipal Corporation, in “sheer abuse” of power simply granted permission for cutting down about 1,500 trees and further 4,500 trees are in line to be cut in near future, the plea said.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 4:26:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bhopal-smart-city-project-ngt-orders-status-quo-on-construction-work/article30914360.ece

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