The National Green Tribunal’s bench has directed a builder to restore the environmental damage allegedly caused to a housing society in Khandala due to illegal hill cutting and tree felling.
The western zonal bench of judicial member U D Salvi and expert member Ranjan Chatterjee asked the Mumbai-based builder to deposit Rs. 40 lakh with Lonavala Municipal Council for the restoration work.
It also restrained the developer from resorting to any further tree felling or hill cutting.
It asked the municipal council to restore the destroyed recreation ground and hill side at the Vikas Valley housing society at Khandala.
The bench, in its judgement on February 28, also ordered the developer to pay Rs. one lakh as litigation cost to the applicants – Nanik Rupani and Ashish Vaid – who had approached the NGT alleging “environmental damage” in the area.
The tribunal ruled that the respondents – Vikas Developers and Vikas Gupta – shall jointly or severally pay the costs and expenses incurred for restitution of the space and deposit Rs. 40 lakh with Lonavala Municipal Council within a month.
According to the application, the builder had illegally cut a hillside and felled trees to make an illegal and unauthorised road without permission from Lonavala Municipal Council. The builder, however, denied the allegation of causing environmental damage in the area.
“We also direct Lonavala Municipal Council to restitute the area of garden/open space as shown in the sanctioned layout, more particularly a strip of land admeasuring 6 metre wide and 105 metre long in recreation ground/open space, within six months and recover the costs from the builder,” the tribunal said in its written order.
The developers shall not in any manner whatsoever illegally and unauthorisedly fell the trees or carry out hill cutting in the project area of Khandala at Maval taluka in Pune district, it ruled.
“Illegal and unauthorised tree felling and hill cutting is an offence to environment,” the tribunal observed while disposing of the application.
The Lonavala civic body informed the bench that it had issued stop work notice to the developers but they did not respond.
“It appears that hill cutting and tree felling have been done,” the tribunal said.
The bench also noted in its order that the Lonavala civic body and the state government supported the applicants, who alleged environmental damage in the area.