The Supreme Court on Wednesday (June 21) refused to stay or amend the May 30 demolition order of the National Green Tribunal on two hotels, Narayani Guest House and Birds View Resort, for fragrant violation of environment norms.
It was a victory for the defendants, the Society for Preservation of Kasauli and its Environs. The hotels will have to be demolished as per the NGT’s order. The NGT has also imposed stiff fines.
The hotels are in the ecologically sensitive Kasauli area in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, and all illegal construction has happened with the connivance of the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
On June 21 the petitioner told the Supreme Court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul that the building was under construction, so the order passed by the tribunal is premature. Only the structure is complete, said the counsel.
The bench took the argument on from that point and said: “Your pictures show your property is not developed, so you cannot claim for an amnesty scheme. That scheme is for already constructed buildings which have been in existence for long.”
The petitioner again said: “My other point is, it was a suo moto petition by the NGT, without any complaints, and the tribunal has no jurisdiction. The order is a sweeping direction to remove the entire construction not only the unauthorized construction.”
The bench replied: “You were permitted to build two blocks and you build four. You have done hill cutting, you constructed a parking lot. Water cannot be supplied to the property. There were landslides due to the same.
“You are not a person who volunteered to remove the construction beyond the sanctioned plan,” observed the court.
The order was clear. “We are convinced that the property is under construction and therefore does not attract the amnesty scheme. Hence Petition is dismissed.”
—India Legal Bureau