SC Extends Stay on Construction at Futala Lake Till March 21

In a recent development, the Supreme Court has issued an extension of its stay on construction activities at Futala Lake, setting the new deadline for March 21. This decision came as a response to a petition filed by the Swaach Association, Nagpur, urging the court to intervene and halt the ongoing construction at the historic Futala Lake, built by Nagpur’s Bhosle dynasty on a sprawling 60 acres of land.

A Judicial Pause

On January 25, Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, leading a bench, initially imposed a stay on the ongoing construction. The Maharashtra Government and Metro Rail Corporation were directed not to proceed with any construction activities at the lake until further notice. The stay has since been extended periodically, with the most recent extension ordered on Thursday, following the pleas of Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General, and Shekhar Naphade, senior counsel.

Saving a Water Body

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan, representing the NGO, stressed the need for a status quo on the construction to preserve the Futala Lake ecosystem. Concrete structures had already emerged, prompting concerns about the impact on the water body. The bench, recognizing the scarcity of wetlands in the country, emphasized the urgency of ceasing construction temporarily. Questions were raised about the removal of existing concrete structures, including the viewers’ gallery at the lake.

Environmental Concerns

Sankaranarayan highlighted the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s declaration of Futala Lake as a wetland. Despite this status, over 7,000 tonnes of concrete had been deposited in the tank. Construction activities, including the installation of a steel fountain in the lake’s center and the conversion of 16,000 square feet of land into a viewers’ gallery, raised ecological alarms. The plea emphasized the potential threat to the ecosystem and aquatic life posed by large-scale construction.

Marching Forward: Next Steps

The Supreme Court, responding to the urgency of the matter, has scheduled a listing on March 21 to delve deeper into the issues at hand. The interim order, extending the stay on construction, will persist until the next listing date.

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