This is the PIL field by the Social Justice forum against the building of the Suvarna Soudha at Vaccine Depot.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA AT BANGALORE
Original Jurisdiction WRIT PETITION NO. ___________ OF 2008 ( PIL ) BETWEEN Social Justice Forum Represented by its President Sri S.B.Hundre Age: Major, Occ: Business, R/o 333, Roy Road, Tilakwadi, Blegaum Tal and Dist:Belgaum. .. Petitioner
AND 1. The State of Karnataka, Represented by its Chief Secretary Vidhanasoudha, Bangalore. 2. The Deputy Commissioner Belgaum District, Tal and Dist: Belgaum. 3. The Government of Karnataka Represented by its Secretary to the Department of Public Works Department M S Building, Bangalore. 4. The Government of Karnataka Represented by its Secretary to the Department of Executive and Legislative Wing, Vidhanasoudha, Bangalore. 5. The Government of Karnataka Represented by its Secretary to the Revenue Department M S Building, Bangalore 6. The Government of Karnataka Represented by its Secretary to the Department of Forest M S Building, Bangalore. 7. The Government of Karnataka Represented by its Secretary to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, M S Building, Bangalore. 8. The Government of Karnataka Represented by its Secretary to the Department of Environment, M S Building, Bangalore. …Respondents
PETITION UNDER ARTICLES 226 AND 227 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
The petitioner above named states as follows: —
1. The subject matter of this petition is the area measuring 50acres under the actual possession and enjoyment of the 7th respondentwherein the Vaccine Institute is set up. The said Vaccine Institute isin possession of 156 acres 10 Guntas of land under different Sy.Nos.bearing Sy.Nos.715,716A,716B/2,717,718,719,720,727,728,729/1 of Angolvillage. Out of the Sy.Nos. mentioned, in an area measuring 25 Acrescomprised in Sy.No.1409/B/A+B2/2 the offices and staff quarters of 7threspondent are constructed. The remaining 83 Acres 24 Guntas is thickly forested area with old full grown forest species interspersedwith grass land and seasonal streams. The land bearing Sy.No.715 and716 measuring 19 Acres and 15 Guntas is also thickly forested areawith grass land patches and seasonal streams. The land under theremaining Sy. nos. also displays similar geographic, topographic andforest cover. About 38 acres of land is already earmarked as deemedforest. This Vaccine Institute is a thick forest in itself, and is located in a residential area ofBelgaum city. The buildings of the institute are located in a verysmall part of the entire 156 acres as stated hereinabove. The rest of the land, though it is in the Campus of the Institute, it is not atall in the actual use and enjoyment by the offices and staff and iscovered with natural vegetation, forest trees and shrubs.
2. The Government of Karnataka has proposed to utilize an areameasuring 50 Acres out of the total area measuring Acres156-10 Guntasas described in Para no.1 above for the construction of SuvarnaVidhana Soudha.
3. That, it is pertinent to note that, this Vaccine Institute of Science and its campus though comes within the city of Belgaum, it is a fully dense forest with rare species of trees , birds, wild animals,and rarest of rare botanical plants. It is home of several species ofminor fauna, insects, archnids, birds, amphibians, reptiles, birds andmammals. It can by no means be considered for fragmentation ordevelopmental activity as it would grievously harm its unique nature.
4. Being located in an Urban area in the midst of thicklypopulated residential area, the Forest in the Vaccine Institute i.e.Urban forest enjoys an unique status, alongside serving innumerablefunctions in terms of controlling the pollution levels of the area,recharging ground water levels, maintaining cooler temperatures etc.The urban forest in the said Vaccine depot as described in so manywords consists of open scrub forests, grass lands and seasonal streamsshowing all the characteristics of a forest Ecosystem.
5. That, the correspondence made to the Forest Departmentclearly shows that 38 Acres of land comprised in the said Vaccinedepot is reserved as deemed forest and it is duly recorded in the listmaintained by the Forest Department. The copy of the list disclosingthe deemed forest area in the said Depot along with the forwardingletter issued by the Forest department is produced as Annexure-A. Thepetitioner is producing herewith the copy of the aerial photograph ofthe Vaccine Institute campus as Annexure-B. The petitioner isproducing herewith the list of plantations, trees, and vegetationavailable in the said campus of 156 acres which is produced asAnnexure –C. The petitioner is producing herewith the copy of the listof birds which are found and are available in the said campus asAnnexure-D.
6. The petitioner states that, after knowledge of the proposedacquisition of the said Vaccine Institute campus for the purpose ofconstructing Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, a representation was made to theHon’ble Governor of the State of Karnataka, by ‘Save Vaccine Institute Action Committee’ which is produced as Annexure –E. Therepresentations given by other social organizations and the petitionerare produced as Annexure –F, G, H The copies of the R of R pertainingto the Vaccine depot and the area covered by it, are produced asAnnexures –J to J 10.
7. That, the petitioner, considering the situation,location and the rarest of rare heritage conserved in the said Vaccinedepot, made a representation to the State to form an Eco park inVaccine depot on 8.04.2006 the copy of the said representation isproduced as Annexure –K. The copy of the reply given by the DyCommissioner Belgaum on 26.12.2006 to the petitioner stating that thesaid Vaccine depot area is proposed for Suvarna Soudha is produced asAnnexure –L.
10. That, the petitioner and its members has taken severe painsto collect the necessary documentation from the appropriatedepartment. The copy of the note prepared on the Ecological, Economicand Social importance of the Campus of Vaccine depot is produced asAnnexure-P. The copy of the Ecological report of Flora of the VaccineInstitute is produced as Annexure-Q.
11. That, various institutes, social organizations, and thepresent petitioner made several representations to the respondents.Several alternative locations were suggested to the respondents. The access to the said Vaccine depot is solely through the residential colony of Tilakwadi Belgaum; in fact the said Vaccine depot is located at the end of Tilakwadi Belgaum. It is surrounded on the other side byArmy area and except the city approach road there is no other road to approach the said depot. This being the fact, it is very hard anddifficult to set up Suvarna soudha when the approach road fully goesthrough calm and quiet residential area of Tilakwadi. The housing of Suvarna Vidhan Soudh in the said Vaccine depot campus would upset,alter, remove, and change wholly and solely the total complexion ofthe Campus in the depot.
12.The House to be constructed in the Vaccine depotCampus is intended to be used only for a short period of wintersession. That, though the area sought to be used by the State is to anextent of 50 acres, yet the State will grab and destroy the entireuniqueness of the Forest Campus in the said depot. That, on therequest of several interested persons in the past, an inspection ofthe said vaccine depot and its campus was done, and the thenDevelopment Commissioner for Northern Karnataka Sri.Chiranjiv Singh,even recommended to set up an Art gallery and Museum in the buildingand to turn the remaining area into a Botanical Garden., the copy ofthe recommendation is produced herewith and m
arked as Annexure –R.
13. That, the Government of Karnataka on 23.8.2007 by its orderbearing No. Kome.107WBR 2006 Bangalore has unanimously decided toacquire 50 acres of land of the said vaccine depot campus and hasfurther formed several committees and has also sanctioned the workestimate to the tune of 30% of total Rs.230 Crores i.e. 70 Crores and hasty steps are being taken up to uproot all the forest trees andvegetation available in the said vaccine depot campus, the copy of thesaid order is produced as Annexure –S. The copy of the recommendationletter sent by the Deputy Commissioner, Belgaum, to the ChiefSecretary, State of Karnataka, Vidhan Soudh, proposing to acquire thearea in Vaccine Depot Campus, is produced as Annexure T. The copy ofthe letter iaddressed by the MLA Campus of Vaccine Depot is producedas Annexure –U. The Deputy Commissioner and the Tahasildar of the Cityof Belgaum have committed a blunder mistake in selecting the Vaccinedepot area; the respondents have not even consulted the Department of Forest and Pollution Controlboard before proposing the construction of Suvarna Soudh in the saiddepot. The 7th respondent is insisted to handover the possession ofthe vaccine depot area to the department of PWD and other departmentsso as to start the work.
14. It is pertinent to note that the said vaccine depot campus is rarest specie of forest and it is unique one. There are several other options available to the respondents to acquire alternative areas which would be nearer to the National Highways and to theAirport considering the badly needed requirement. If a barren or otherwise suitable area abutting to the Highways and away from thecity area is chosen for housing the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, that would meet the convenience and keep the nature and identity of theVaccine Depot Campus from being ruined and destroyed of its richheritage.
16. That the petitioner Forum is an Association registered under the provisions of the Society Registration Act with registrationno.DR/SOR/267/2000-01 and having its registered office at 333, Royroad, Tilakwadi, Belgaum. The petitioner association is activelyinvolved in taking steps to secure protection of public rights and interests in order to have fair and fearless life to the citizen ofBelgaum. The present petition is filed to secure protection to the Campus in the Vaccine Institute and it is essentially to protect the public interest. The petitioner does not have any individual interestin the subject matter of this petition. Hence this petition is filedin the form of PIL. That the petitioner is actively trying its levelbest to protect and preserve the said Vaccine depot since more than 3to 4 years ; there was not even a proposal to construct the SuvarnaSoudh in the said Campus and the petitioner was consistentlypersuading the Deputy Commissioner Belgaum T he copy of the intimation issued by the Dy.Commissioner Belgaum,assuring to take suitable action to protect the Vaccine Depot area, isprodued as Annexure V. The copy of the representation given by theG.S.Science College, Tilakwadi, Belgaum, to the Dy.CommissionerBelgaum, requesting to protect and preserve the Vaccine Depot area isproduced as Annexure W. The leading news papers have time and againinsisted to protect the Vaccine depot area and its heritage to strikeecological balance; the copies of some of the paper publications areproduced as Annexures X and X-1.
17 . That the respondents are not at all inclined to listen to the reasoned say of the petitioner or other social organizations andthey are bent upon to start the construction work in the said vaccinedepot at the earliest and hence there being no other alternativeremedy available to the petitioner, this petition in the form of P I Lis filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India. Thepetitioner states that there is no other petition or case pending inthis court or before any other court on the same cause of action. Grounds
18. That, the decision taken by the respondents to house SuvarnaVidhansoudha in Vaccine depot campus (hereinafter referred to as thesaid campus for the purpose of brevity), is improper, incorrect ,andunjust, apart from being violative of the provisions of the ForestConservation Act 1980 and other enactments.
19. That the said campus is unique in its nature and is the lungarea of the city of Belgaum. 38 Acres of the portion of the saidCampus comes under the reserved deemed forest. Rare forest trees,beautiful and unique breed of birds and rare vegetation is the mark ofthe said campus. In the guise of constructing over an area of 50 acresof the said campus , the respondents would one day or the otherdestroy the entire campus and its uniqueness only for accommodatingthe House for a short period of winter session which is absolutelyillogical , and unjustifiable.
20. That, there are several other options available to therespondents to select an appropriate area abutting to the NationalHighway and to the Airport. It is advisable to construct the saidSuvarna Vidhansoudha on the outskirt of the city, so as to strike abalance to the convenience of members of house on one side and thecitizens of the city on the other.
21. That if the said campus is not preserved and maintained, itwould cause ecological imbalance destroying the rare breeds of birdsand unseen kind of forest trees which are standing in the said campusfor more than 300 to 400 years, in the lung area of city of Belgaum.
22. That, there was a recommendation by the earlier Commissionerof the City of Belgaum by name Sri Chiranjeev Singh to earmark thesaid campus for eco park, but over looking the said recommendation thepresent task undertaken by the respondents is unjust, incorrect, andillegal.
23. That the students of various colleges have made a survey andsubmitted their reports which would definitely reflect that the saidcampus is useful for the purpose for which it is kept and housing amuseum , art gallery, and reserving the said area for eco park woulddefinitely enrich the cultural asset of the State of Karnataka .
24. That several acres of land are available near Airport area and near Bhutaramatti area on the outskirts of the city of Belgaum which are abutting to National Highway. If the Suvarna Vidhanssoudha is constructed on such an area, it would do justice to the unique campus,environment and heritage..
25. That the respondents are not making use of the saidproposed soudha for the whole of the year but only for a short periodof winter session and the said building would be used for the otherpurposes which are not at all permissible within the campus of the said vaccine depot.
26. That the petitioner and other social organizations including all the leading news papers have discussed the pros and consof housing the said soudha in the said campus but unfortunately therespondents without considering the just and judicious balance is bentupon to destroy and remove the unique vaccine depot once for all fromthe map of the city of Belgaum.
27. That, despite the description of the Vaccine Instituteand its Campus as narrated in this petition, the Belgaum Development Authority or the concerned Authority has not taken any steps to earmark the area in the Campus of the Vaccine Institute as ‘Green Belt area’ or in other words an area that needs to be preserved andprotected to keep Forest Asset in the Urban area alive.
28. That, the said Vaccine depot is surrounded on threesides by thickly populated area residential area with narrow congestedroads. The Air Force residential quarters and Commondo and shootingareas are abutting to the said Vaccine Institute. Hence it is notsafer to house the Soudh in the said Campus area part from the factwhether it is legally permissible.
29. The Vaccine Institute p
rovides an a uniquelaboratory and natural museum for school and college children toobserve and study the nature. There is diverse assemblage of allanimal life; studies from simple studies to more serious ones can beundertaken by students at all levels. It is pertinent to note that nodangerous animals are present in the Campus and as such it becomessafe for the study and use of the said Campus. The children of lowerclass who can not afford to take expensive excursions outside the cityfor enjoying and learning about the nature can exploit the opportunityin the said Vaccine depot Campus.
30. The Flora of the Vaccine Institute is unique andremarkable one in as much as the Campus represents a mini eco-systemthat has evolved and stabilized over hundreds of years and as such allcomponents within it are equally important as they are interlinked andcontribute to the over all biodiversity of the Campus. The Campus is made up of Mosaic of different vegetation types, ranging from grasslands, to scrub to trees and thus has great diversity. All these are natural systems and as such the whole area represents a heterogeneousnatural habitat. The tress which are more than 100-150 years old arethe assets of the said Campus. These tress and the natural heritagebadly require full protection and care. Hence even imagining theconstruction of Suvarna Soudh also in the said Campus would beillogical and ridiculous.
31. The Vaccine Institute Campus attracts differentspecies of birds, mammals and invertebrates and as such their losswill result in the loss of biodiversity and hence construction insidethe Campus is not advisable.
32. It goes without saying that once the Soudh is built in the said Campus it will result in increased traffic causing air and noisepollution. This will in turn affect the beneficial effect of the saidCampus on the locality. That apart the present area is residentialarea but if the Soudh is constructed in the Campus the whole areawould eventually become a commercial area rendering it congested andhardly useful for other purposes.
33. It is therefore advisable to construct the Suvarna VidhanSoudh outside the city limits in a well planned and well developed layout to stop any problem in future for expansion and for spreading ofplanned commercial, administrative and residential areas to enhanceoverall quality of city and to reduce the congestion within theexisting city.
34. It is pertinent to note that, within the meaning of section 2of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, as laid down by the Hon’bleSupreme Court in the case T.N.Govadvarman Thirumalpad vs. Union ofIndia reported in 2006 (6) Scale 582, ‘if a land answers thedefinition of a forest land even though it is not so reserved, itcould be considered as forest land’. It is submitted that if a reportfrom the Competent Committee is solicited, it would resolve the matterin controversy in a justifiable manner. That apart several otherissues which have got bearing, on the matter in controversy in thepresent petition are discussed meticulously in the said case. Thestress and tenor of the ratio laid down in the said judgment isprotection of the environment and Ecological balance.
35. It is submitted that the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the caseof Live Oak Resort Pvt.Ltd. Vs Panchagani Hill stations MunicipalCouncils, reported in 2001(8) SCC Page 329, has opined that, the development of the area shall not be at the cost of ecologicalimbalance. The Apex court has made it clear in several cases that, theprotection of environment and preservation of ecological balance isthe need of the hour and all developmental activities aimed atdeforestation shall have to be considered with utmost circumspection.
36. It is pertinent to note that, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, inthe case of KIADB Vs C. Kencheppa reported in 2006 (6) SCC 371, hasopined that, the development should not impair ecology andenvironment.
37. It is submitted that, in the case of Bombay Dyeing and Mfg.Co. Ltd. Vs Bombay Environmental Action Group, reported in 2006(3)SCC 434, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has laid down that, in a case wherein the matter in controversy pertains to violation of Environmentor Ecological balance, Public Interest Litigation, is the remedy forredressal of grievance.
38. The setting up of Suvarna Vidhan Soudh in the Campus ofVaccine Depot, seriously impairs environment and ecological balanceand hence it is in brazen breach of the provisions of the law ofenvironment and ecology, as enjoined under The Environment ProtectionAct, 1986, The Forest Conservation Act 1980, The KarnatakaPreservation of Tress Act, 1976, The Indian Forest Act, 1927 and otherallied enactments. In the light of the various provisions of theenactment referred supra, it becomes abundantly clear that, thesetting up of Suvarna Vidhan Soudh, in the Campus of Vaccine Depot, isabsolutely illegal and illogical. The action on the part of therespondents in purporting to set up the said Soudh in the Campus ofVaccine Depot, is operating contrary to the law of Environment and Ecology and as such it is oppressive, inequitable and contrary to thereal justice in the matter.
39. The reading of the facts and grounds and circumstances narrated supra makes it clear that, the Deputy Commissioner Belgaum,the Development Commissioner North Karnataka, the Sicence colleges ofBelgaum, all the leading news papers of the State of Karnataka andIndia , the Social organizations of the city of Belgaum in general and the petitioner in person, unanimously assert and appeal that theflora and fauna of the Vaccine depot Campus is stretching its hands tosave it from being ruined and destroyed at the hands of respondents,in brazen breach of the laws of Forest, Ecology and environment.
GROUNDS FOR INTERIM RELIEF
39. That the said Campus as narrated is an Urban Forest withremarkable uniqueness. It is the asset of the State and treasure ofnatural vegetation. The forest department has already enlisted an areameasuring 38 Acres within the said Campus as deemed forest. The saidCampus requires timely protection from being ruined and destroyed oncefor all from the map of city of Belgaum. The paras and grounds as narrated supra make it very much clear that, looked at from any angle,it is not advisable to construct the Suvarna Vidhan Soudh in the saidCampus. As such the interim order as prayed deserves to be granted.
PRAYER .WHEREFORE, under the facts and circumstances stated supra it isrespectfully prayed that this Hon’ble court be pleased to A] Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of Certiorari,quashing Annexure- i.e. the Government order dated 23.8.2007 bybearing No. Kome.107WBR 2006 Bangalore, proposing to construct SuvarnaVidhan Soudh, in the Vaccine Depot Campus, Belgaum; B] Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of Mandamusdirecting the respondents not to change the nature and identity of theEntire Vaccine Depot Campus measuring 156 acres and its rich heritagetherein.
INTERIM PRAYER It is further prayed that pending hearing and the disposal of the topnoted petition on merits, the respondents be restrained from changingthe nature and identity of the said Vaccine Depot Campus measuring 156Acres, situated in the city of Belgaum.
This is the PIL field by the Social Justice forum against the building of the Suvarna Soudha at Vaccine Depot.