The Supreme Court was told Friday that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's ambitious NOIDA park project dedicated to BSP and Dalit icons was being set up on land that was a 'deemed forest' and large number of trees were being felled for the purpose.
'This was not a natural forest but a deemed forest that had a dense collection of variety of trees planted about 35 years ago,' senior counsel Jayant Bhushan told the green bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan.
The senior counsel said this following a query by Chief Justice Kapadia asking, 'What is the basis of your submission that it is a forest land? What is the status of the said land in the revenue records?'
The counsel told the court that in revenue records the NOIDA park land was shown as agricultural land. He said the park was being set up by cutting large number of trees and denuding the entire area.
At this Justice Radhakrishnan wanted to know if all the trees were cut and what was their age. Jayant Bhushan told the court that the trees were planted when NOIDA was being set up in the mid 70s. He said the trees were more than 30 years old.
Jayant Bhushan said there were three issues that needed to be addressed by the court. One is whether NOIDA park was being set up on forest land. Secondly, whether the state government had taken the Ministry of Environment and Forests approval under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification (EIAN) of 2006, and finally, its impact on the Okhala Bird Sanctuary that is in not far from the park.
In the meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government in its affidavit before the Supreme Court has accused the MoEF of deliberately creating bottlenecks to delay the project.
The state government has taken exception to the centre's affidavit seeking more time to undertake an 'integrated and holistic' environmental impact assessment of the project.