India

Sarang Yadwadkar v. Pune Municipal Corporation

Jurisdiction: India


Side A: Sarang Yadwadkar (Individual)


Side B: Pune Municipal Corporation (Government)


Core objectives: Challenge the construction of a road.


Summary
The applicants challenge the construction of the road from Vitthalwadi to National Highway-4 bypass, which is being constructed under the Draft Development Plan on the ground that the Draft Development Plan has not been approved by the State Government, no permission from Irrigation Department has been taken and the road touches the Vitthalwadi Temple and its surrounding areas which are Grade I Heritage Buildings and even permission from Archaeological Department has not been taken. This construction, according to the applicants, is bound to cause massive environmental, ecological and social damage. The construction of the road is being carried out in the river bed i.e. within the "blue line". Thus, the applicants pray that the on-going construction work should be stopped immediately and the respondents; any other person or agencies should be restrained from dumping any debris or construction material; the entire debris and soil dumping should be directed to be removed and finally the boundaries of the river should be expressly defined and marked by the local government in conjunction with Irrigation Department and the Archaeological Department. According to a new Draft Development Plan, Vithalwadi was included in the Pune Municipal Corporation. The Construction is part of the new Draft Development Plan. According to the applicants, the Respondents (Pune Municipal Corporation) are constructing the road within the Mutha river bed itself and have elevated the level of the road by 20 ft. to 30 ft. by way of illegal dumping rubble and earth and tens of thousands of truckloads of debris and soil are dumped right in the river bed for elevating the road. As a result, there has been reduction of the width of the river Mutha by about 55% and it is bound to result in increased floods in the surrounding densely populated residential areas during rainy season. The applicants, have raised two specific grounds – one that the road is being constructed by the respondents into the river bed (i.e. blue line) and secondly huge dumping of debris have caused destruction of the riparian zone along the Mutha river. The Respondents have put forth the reasons for the construction of the road: (i) Serve a public purpose of reducing traffic congestion on Sinhagad Road, (ii) Save the Dam, (iii) Reduce fuel consumption, and (iv)Consequently reduce vehicular pollution. In nutshell, it was going to serve a public purpose. According to them, the environment and ecology is going to benefit from this Road. The Tribunal is therefore expected to derive a balance between the apprehended environmental and ecological damage on the one hand and the need for construction of the road with its economic advantages on the other. Keeping in mind the public interest, that by imposition of certain conditions, environmental and ecological interests can be safeguarded, The Tribunal permitted Respondents to complete the project. Accordingly, the following conditions were imposed subject to which the project could continue: (a) Respondents would be permitted to carry out and complete the project of building only 24 metre wide road from Vitthalwadi to NH-4 bypass as strictly and subject to the conditions stated hereinafter. (b) Respondents shall make every effort to realign the road to bring it as far as possible closer to and beyond the blue line. It shall ensure to extend the least part of the project in the river bed/blue line. (c) The road/project shall be constructed on elevated pillars alone in the area that falls within the blue line. (d) Respondent will remove the debris dumped at the present site and shift the same to the red line by following 1 in 25 years rule. (e) A massive plantation should be undertaken on both sides of the river, also in the no-development zone by Respondents as well as the State Government of Maharashtra. Adequate protective measures should be undertaken to prevent flooding and submerging of the residential area along the proposed road. (f) The conditions imposed by the Chief Engineer, Irrigation Department shall mutatis mutandis be part of the Tribunal's directions. (g) Respondents shall take appropriate steps against unauthorised constructions, if any, raised on and inside the blue line and pass order of demolition or such other order as is permissible in accordance with law. The Tribunal also directed the said authorities to ensure that no encroachment is permitted and no construction in future is permitted on and inside the blue line of the river Mutha. If the conditions imposed under this order are found to be onerous by the State, particularly Respondent No.1 (Pune Municipal Corporation), then they can even give up the project on river Mutha as an alternative road on the other side of the river has already been constructed to provide the connectivity. In the event the Department decides to give up the road project, it shall be incumbent on it to remove all debris from within the blue line that has been used to create the high rise road segment. It is stated to be a 100 ft. wide road on the left bank of the river Mutha giving connectivity with the same bypass. Thus, in the present case, Respondent No.1 has options and alternatives available to it while ensuring that both the public interest and the environment do not suffer.

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