Sunday, February 8, 2009

Court orders new look at 2010 Games venue

Court orders new look at 2010 Games venueThe Supreme Court on Friday appointed eminent architect and town planner Charles Correa to examine the feasibility of construction of basketball and squash courts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the Capital’s Siri Fort area and submit a report in three weeks.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S. H. Kapadia passed the order after amicus curiae Harish Salve expressed concern at damage caused to the environment due to destruction of a large number of trees in the area to facilitate construction of the sports complex.

The Bench asked the expert committee to examine the project in its totality and see whether the sports complex could be re-located in another area; if not, to what extent the damage to environment could be minimised and whether the design could be changed in view of security concerns expressed by many over proposed underground parking.

Justice Pasayat observed, “Our main concern is to explore the possibility of having the project at the same site without further damage to the forest and whether something could be done to salvage the loss.”

The Court in April last year had restrained the Delhi Development Authority from cutting trees in the area after Mr. Salve brought to its notice that 836 trees were cut and destroyed overnight by the DDA under the directions of the Commonwealth Games Authority for construction of a 30,000 square metres sports complex.

Mr. Salve said the DDA did not approach the apex court for clearance of the project as was done in the case of Talkatora Stadium where it was given the go-ahead for renovation of the swimming pool stadium that needed felling of trees. He said indiscriminate felling of trees would damage the environment in the city and those responsible for it must be penalised: a stern message had to be given to those responsible for ignoring the laws and disturbing the eco-sensitive Siri Fort forest area. He wanted the project to be re-located to the Yamuna area where the Games Village is coming up.

Additional Solicitor-General Amarendra Saran said necessary permission had been obtained before cutting the trees and compensatory tree planting had been done. He said the Government was already working against the deadline for the Commonwealth Games and “we cannot stop the Games. We are building an international standards sports stadium in that area. Several alternative suggestions were considered and only thereafter this area was selected”.