SHIMLA----The High Court of H.P. today issued notices to the Center and State Governments, Municipal Corporation, Shimla and Shimla Smart City Mission Ltd., in the matter regarding grant of forest clearance for Shimla Smart City Project. The Court also directed the respondents to file reply within a period of four weeks.
Division Bench comprising of the Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed these orders on a petition filed by Ms.Namita Maniktala, which was converted by the Court as Public Interest Litigation as the matter involves public interest. The petitioner has alleged that a news item dated 22.06.2021 was published in the newspaper "The Tribune" under the title "Key Shimla Projects Delays-Forest Clearance Awaited", the gist of which was that some of the developmental projects, which were required to be undertaken as part of Smart City Project were detained for want of forest clearance under the Forest Conservation Act. The petitioner has alleged that Smart City Projects include Lift and Escalator at Lakkar Bazar, Escalator to Jakhu Top, Smart Path from Sanjauli to Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Vending Zone in Khalini, Krishna Nagar-Combermere Nallah and widening of work in Dhalli area. She has also alleged that Shimla town is facing traffic hazards and various other problems pertaining to the pedestrians and commissioning of these projects is intimately connected with the Right to Life of the residents of Shimla in particular and general public at large as they will make the life of the residents much easier. The petitioner has alleged that these projects are being funded under the Smart City Missions of Government of India and end of deadline for completion of these projects shall cause irreparable loss and in case the same is not processed and decided, the funding for these vital projects may also lapse. She has further alleged that as the deadline for completion of these projects would be ending very soon next year, the applications for grant of forest clearance under the Forest Conservation Act, are required to be considered expeditiously by the Centre Government. The petitioner has prayed that the Centre government may be directed to consider the applications for grant of forest clearances with respect to the aforesaid projects and the State Government and other respondents may be directed to complete these projects in a time bound manner after receipt of forest clearances.
The Court posted the matter after four weeks.