The Supreme Court has asked Uttar Pradesh Government to seek permission from the Centre for its dream smart city project near Lucknow after it was told that around 15 hectares of the total project area of 992 acres,is forest land.
The bench, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, did not allow the UP administration’s plea that the permission of the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was not needed as it considers forest as “pristine” and undertakes that no tree would be cut in the forest area.
“We are not cutting even a single tree in the forest area and we are also not using this forest land for the project,” senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for UP, said.
“From bullocks to cybercity to environment protection, we have travelled a lot …What is certain is that some part of the project area is forest land and you (UP) still require permission of Central Government,” the bench said.
Counsel appearing for MoEF contended that it was for the State Government to approach the Centre for mandatory permission.
At the outset, advocate ADN Rao, who has been appointed amicus curiae, informed the court that around 15 hectares of the Chak Ganjaria farm land, spread over 992 acres, falls under the definition of forest land.
Admittedly, no construction activities to develop the smart city near Lucknow can be carried on forest land without getting clearance from MoEF, he said.
The court then adjourned the hearing by two weeks.
Earlier, the court had asked the Centre and UP to give requisite information to the amicus curiae on allegation of cutting down trees in a sprawling farm land near Lucknow to develop a smart city.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by NGO ‘We the People’ through its general secretary and advocate Prince Lenin.
The petition has sought directions to UP and its Agriculture Production Commissioner that trees on the land near Lucknow should not be cut.