NGT restrains Himachal govt from proceeding with Draft Development Plan, 2041

by IANS |

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) The National Green Tribunal has restrained the Himachal Pradesh government from going ahead with Draft Development Plan, 2041, which allows rampant construction in the hilly state.

"We find the observations and proposals in the plan of the state of HP to be patently illegal in view of submissions noted above," NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said after hearing a plea filed by Yogendra Mohan Sengupta, a Shimla-based environmentalist.

The plea was challenging the Draft Development plan on the ground that it is contrary to the sustainable development principle and destructive to the environment and public safety.

The petitioner relied upon the Expert Committee reports based on NGT's 2017 order which has already issued regulatory measures required to be adopted in terms of the number of floors, and restrictions on constructions in core green areas.

In the order, the tribunal said, if the state proceeds in such a manner, not only it will damage rule of law, it may result in disastrous consequences for the environment and public safety.

"It is not expected from a lawful government that has to work as per law and the Constitution and not at its fancies as appears to be the case," read the order dated May 12.

Pulling up the Chief Secretary of the state, the tribunal said: "Chief Secretary should be personally held liable for prosecution for such patent illegal acts of the State authorities."

Also, issuing show-cause notices to the respondents, the bench directed the state to file their responses within one month. The Tribunal also said that the applicant might serve a set of papers on the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit of service within one week, stating meanwhile, it restrains the Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Department from taking any further steps in pursuance of the Draft Development Plan, 2041.

The matter will be further heard on July 22. The plea contended that the earlier directions of the tribunal are still holding the field. It said the draft plan is an illegal and ill-conceived effort to violate the binding directions of the Tribunal under Section 15 of the NGT. Under Section 33 of the said Act, the NGT Act has overriding effect over any other law in force.

Violating such directions is a criminal punishable offence under Section 26 of the NGT Act. Heads of concerned Departments of the State are liable to be prosecuted for such offence under Section 28 of the said Act, it stated.

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