Environment ministry stalls CHB’s IT Park housing project

Ministry says project site falls in Sukhna wildlife sanctuary’s eco-sensitive zone; UT admn to write back as project site is 1.25 km beyond the eco-sensitive zone

Stating that the project site falls in the eco-sensitive zone of the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary, the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has stalled Chandigarh Housing Board’s much-anticipated general housing scheme at IT Park.

While last month, UT administrator Banwarilal Purohit had accorded the project wildlife clearance and sent the file to the ministry for final approval, the environment clearance was expected in October.

IT Park housing project

But at a recent meeting of the National Board for Wildlife (NBW), it was stated that no construction can be done in the area, as it falls under the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary.

CHB chief executive officer (CEO) Yashpal Garg said, “Though we have not got any official reply from the ministry, we have learnt that the wildlife board has denied its approval. However, we will again take up the matter with the ministry, as the project area is 1.25 km beyond the ESZ, where construction is allowed.”

In 2017, Chandigarh had declared an area varying from 2 km to 2.75 km from the sanctuary boundary that falls within UT as ESZ, which was notified by the MoEF the same year.

What do the ESZ norms say

According to the Supreme Court directions, no permanent structure can be constructed for whatever purpose within an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).

Further no commercial construction is allowed in the 0.5 km radius outside the ESZ. From 0.5 km to 1.25 km, construction of low-density and low-rise buildings up to 15 feet is allowed, while beyond 1.25 km, construction of new buildings, including houses, is allowed.

In the works since 2020

The housing scheme, featuring 728 flats in three categories, was first approved by the CHB board of directors in December 2020.

Classified into 28 four-bedroom, 448 three-bedroom and 252 two-bedroom flats, which will come up in seven-storey towers, the scheme has been planned on two IT Park plots, measuring 10.51 and 6.43 acres.

The towers will have two basements with the provision of parking of two cars for each flat in addition to surface parking for visitors.

Though the exact rates of flats are yet to be decided, the cost of a four-bedroom flat is expected to be ₹2.75 crore, ₹1.9 crore for the three-bedroom flat and ₹1.3 crore for the two-bedroom flat – all steeper than the last general housing scheme in Sector 53 that had to be scrapped due to poor public response.

The 16-acre land for the IT Park project is part of the 123 acres that CHB retrieved from Parsvnath Developers in 2015 after a long-drawn legal battle.

Under the Sector 53 general housing scheme, CHB had received only 178 applications against the 492 flats on offer.

Touted as the most expensive public housing project in the city’s history, the scheme had offered three-bedroom flats for ₹1.8 crore, two-bedroom flats for ₹1.5 crore and one-bedroom flat for ₹95 lakh. Even after the board slashed the proposed rates by 15% to attract more buyers, the response did not improve.

CHB’s attempt to auction 18 residential and commercial sites at IT Park in 2018 also did not attract many developers, again due to high reserve prices. The board had then decided to launch a self-financing general housing scheme on its own.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/environment-ministry-stalls-chb-s-it-park-housing-project-101666557528242.html

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