NGT refuses to allow commercial construction on Shimla railway land

A proposal allowing the construction of a hotel and other commercial structures on land in Shimla’s railway warehouse has been rejected

By Susan Chacko
Published: Friday 03 September 2021

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), August 31, 2021 refused to entertain an application filed by the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) for permission to construct multi-level parking as well as commercial structures in the railway warehouse below Winter Field, Shimla.

The applicant had said the project was necessary to control traffic congestion.

The tribunal, however, rejected the petitioners’ submission that the supervisory committee formed to evaluate constructions of exceptional nature, had given the go-ahead for the proposal.

The court noted that even the committee had said the project was partly for public utility and partly for commercial purposes.

Even if a part of the project was of public utility, the main project was of a commercial nature and proposed constructing structures up to three storeys above the hill level, the order said.

The project was not permissible according to the directions of the NGT dated November 16, 2017, the court maintained.

The NGT, on November 16, 2017, had prohibited new constructions of any kind — residential, institutional and commercial — in any part of the core, green and forest areas defined under the various notifications issued under the Interim Development Plan, Shimla, as well as by the Himachal Pradesh government.

The 2017 order of the NGT also said the construction of public utilities like hospitals, schools and offices of essential services could be allowed.

This was on the condition that it would not include commercial and private builders. If these buildings were proposed to be constructed beyond two storeys plus the attic floor, then the plans for approval and obtaining a No-objection certificate had to be submitted to the concerned authorities.

The NGT order is significant in the wake of disasters due to weather, climate and water extremes afflicting the hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Both states are facing the consequences of climate change and unbridled exploitation of land, forests and water.

The NGT order of August 31 was delivered by the Principal Bench of the NGT, under Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Brijesh Sethi.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.