Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, January 12
The Supreme Court has upheld the National Green Tribunal’s 2016 ruling ordering the demolition of a hotel built for Himachal Pradesh Bus Stand Management and Development Authority on forest land.
A Bench of DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee said allowing the structure, a hotel and restaurant that a private entrepreneur built for Himachal Pradesh Bus Stand Management and Development Authority, to stand on forest land would be legalising the illegal.
The structure was built on the basis of Build Operate and Transfer (BOT).
Himachal Pradesh Bus Stand Management and Development Authority has two weeks to begin the demolition and a month to complete it. The chief conservator of forest can step in if there’s any default, demolish the structure, and recover costs from the bus stand authority.
The court has also upheld the NGT’s original order that the bus stand authority could continue to use the land as parking space and as part of the bus stand complex, but for no other purpose, and that the authority must strictly adhere to the Environment and Forests Ministry’s March 1, 2001, orders.
In 2016, the NGT’s ordered Rs 15 lakh in damages for the illegal structure—the private contractor who built the structure was asked to pay Rs 10 lakh and the Himachal
Government, specifically its tourism department, had to be the remaining Rs 5 lakh.
The Himachal Pradesh Bus Stand Management Authority had appealed the order in Supreme Court.