By Ravleen Kaur, Published in Indian Express, 01 May, 2006
New Delhi, May 1, 2006: The Supreme Court today stayed work in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj mall complex till it receives an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S.H.Kapadia, while directing the Ministry to submit the report in two months, also asked it to find out if constructions by the Army in the area also need an EIA.
The order came after the Ministry submitted an affidavit saying no new project can be undertaken without an EIA if it has an investment of over Rs 50 crore, discharges over 50,000 litres of sewage per day or houses more than 1,000 persons. And, all the five malls coming up in the Rs 1,182 crore complex— a 92-acre plot bought at a 1992 DDA auction — fulfill either one criteria or all, said the Ministry.
The five parties involved, Maruti Udyog Limited, Ambience Developers Private Limited, Regency Park Management Services Private Limited, Beverly Park Maintenance Services Private Limited and Jasmine Project Private Limited, have claimed that their projects fell below the thresholds specified. Officials today refused to comment till they got a copy of the court order. The mall owners have been asked to furnish the project documents required under the EIA and also a report of a public hearing conducted by the Delhi Pollution Control Board. Today’s order came in response to the petitions filed by two different citizens’ groups— Citizens for the Preservation of Queries and Lake Wilderness (CPQLW) in January 2004 in the Forest Bench of the apex court and the Ridge Bachao Andolan in November 2005.
The activists say the malls’s site falls under the protected Ridge area and is a vital groundwater recharge zone.