A committee formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Friday recommended a penalty of Rs 10.33 crore on a builder for construction in the green area in a housing complex in Gurgaon in violation of environmental laws.
The three-member committee visited the sites of Ambiance Lagoon Apartments and Ambiance Island in Gurgaon and found illegal construction of commercial complex at a part of the land of the housing colony as also violation of environmental clearance.
The committee has recommended that the illegal commercial structure be immediately demolished for development of green area and other activities of lagoon apartments.
On the basis of calculations, the total value of environmental compensation to be paid by the project proponent has been assessed as Rs 10.33 crore, it said.
The panel also suggested that the government may impose an immediate fine of 10 per cent of the project cost Rs 138 crore.
The NGT committee comprised representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal.
The NGT had earlier levied an interim compensation of Rs 68.51 lakh on Ambience Developers & Infrastructure Private Limited for building Ambience Lagoon Apartment in Gurgaon.
The bench said that the assessed amount does not deal with the loss of ecological services to the applicants who are allottees of apartments prior to the revised plans.
"Compensation has been assessed for period from July 2, 2019 only on the basis of violation of law without considering the value of loss of environmental services. The component of compensation is the value of ecological services lost and the violation of law which cannot be the sole basis for determining compensation for loss of environmental services on account of illegal construction in open area," it had said.
The apartment owners had contended that commercial tower construction was not part of the Deed of Declaration and the original sanctioned plan which was for 10.98 acres.
The subsequent revised plan, based on EC granted could not affect the rights of the allottees of apartments, prior to the said date, they said, adding that the commercial tower affected the environment rights of the allottees.
The NGT, in its order, had said, "Out of 10.98 acre land which was meant for the project in question, only 7.93 acre land was used and remaining 3.05 acre land, which was open area, was converted into covered area for a commercial tower, irreversibly taking away the rights to ecological services of the persons to whom the flats were allotted."
The order had come after perusing a report filed by the the Environment Ministry making an assessment of Rs 68,51,250 to be paid as environmental compensation.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Gurgaon residents Anil Uppal and others, seeking action against the builder for construction in the green/open area on a housing complex.
"Open areas in the colony are shrinking. Groundwater extraction was excessive. Air quality was getting deteriorated. The builder had undertaken construction on designed open spaces, blocking fresh air and sunlight," the petitioners said.
"The approved zoning plans required maintaining at least 15 per cent of the total area as open space. National Building Code of India, 2005 also requires minimum horizontal space between the existing building and the new building," the petitioners added.