State legislators laid foundation of Tata Camelot housing scheme - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

State legislators laid foundation of Tata Camelot housing scheme

State legislators laid foundation of Tata Camelot housing scheme

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5

Punjab’s MLAs — both former and present — had virtually laid the foundation for Camelot’s large-scale scheme. The partnership between the legislators and the business giant was entered into almost a decade ago with an eye on possible windfall from the realty sector.

Punjab MLAs’ Cooperative House Building Society with nearly 100 members, including former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, was formed way back in 2000-01 by pooling in Rs 5 lakh each. The members were each entitled to 500-sq yard plot.

This was before they entered into a pact with Tata. Every MLA was to get Rs 82.5 lakh and a flat each in lieu of their plot as per the agreement with Tata. The Delhi High Court was told that the legislators, who were the beneficiaries, were also the decision takers as far as the project was concerned.

Their plans were practically razed to the ground with the project initially coming under the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s scanner. The total amount received by each MLA did not exceed Rs 30 lakh and the flats were never handed over.

The background

The High Court on August 21, 2013, virtually gave green signal to the project, subject to necessary clearances from the authorities concerned. The Bench made it clear that the orders prohibiting construction activity in the Lake’s catchment area were not applicable to the project.

Former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Justice SS Sodhi and 16 other petitioners subsequently moved the Supreme Court against the proposed construction of 1,794 residential flats as a part of the Camelot project, while challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s August 2013 order.

The apex court then set aside the order before asking the Delhi High Court to go into the issue afresh and decide whether the project fell in the Sukhna Lake’s catchment area. The case was transferred to Delhi in view of the surcharged atmosphere in the High Court at Chandigarh. Arguing on PIL-petitioner Aalok Jagga’s behalf for almost one-and-a-half years, senior advocate PS Patwalia asked for a directive to the company to get fresh environment clearance from the Centre.

How state ‘helped’ MLAs 

  • The SC ruled it was not in dispute that proposal sent by the Government of Punjab to the  Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to keep the buffer zone within 100 metres from Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary was not accepted and the direction was issued to resubmit the proposal for at least 1 km buffer zone was not forwarded by the state.
  • It was incumbent upon the state to send a proposal to the MoEF. But it appeared to the apex court “that it has not chosen to do so for a reason, precious project concerning MLAs is involved, and the MoEF has not accepted its proposal for keeping buffer zone to 100 metres”.

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