Punjab and Haryana High Court fast tracks Sukhna Lake case

Day-to-day hearing in 2009 case regarding illegal constructions in catchment area begins

THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Wednesday began a day-to-day hearing in a 2009 case regarding Sukhna Lake and the issue of illegal constructions in its catchment area, observing that the matter has been unnecessarily dragged and prolonged.

The division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu heard the submissions of amicus curiae Tanu Bedi on Wednesday and will continue hearing the matter on Thursday.

The court has asked UT Chandigarh to inform the court regarding a proposal submitted by it to the Centre in 2006 for a Rs 73.51-crore project for de-siltation and catchment area treatment activities.

A counsel representing the central government submitted before the court that the record on their end reveals that certain questions and objections were raised regarding the proposal. No reply was received from the Chandigarh Administration due to which the financial assistance for conservation and management of Sukhna Lake could not be sanctioned, the court was told.

The high court Wednesday also asked Haryana to apprise it regarding existence of any encroachments in the catchment area around Mansa Devi Complex. The matter has remained pending since 2009. In 2011, the high court had banned any constructions in the catchment area of Sukhna Lake. The issues like management of the rain-fed lake, de-siltation and illegal constructions in lake’s catchment area are pending before court in the case.

Punjab’s stand is that a fresh survey be carried out for a scientific demarcation of the catchment area around Sukhna Lake with the assistance of technical experts for proper adjudication of the issue. A number of constructions in Kansal area are alleged to be illegal. Punjab, however, has said that the map of the catchment area – on the basis of which Sukhna Lake’s catchment area has been determined, needs to be re-drawn after taking note of changes in surface over the years.

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