Within 36 hours after SC’s order, Chandigarh admin de-seals Berkeley Realtech building

In a major development after receiving Supreme Court’s directions to de-seal the building of Berkeley Realtech Limited within 36 hours, the Chandigarh Administration on Tuesday evening itself de-sealed the building. The apex court also directed to immediately restore the electricity and water connections, which were disconnected, within 36 hours.

The UT administration on September 1 had sealed the commercial complex of Berkeley Realtech Limited in Industrial Area, Phase I on the directions of the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) for allegedly violating environment norms.

The petitioner, Berkeley Realtech, stated that the Chandigarh Administration sealed the entire building thereby affecting 40 tenants. The petitioner added that even according to the environmental laws, first the owner is asked to remove the pollutant, and if he does not do that within the stipulated time, the authorities have the right to remove the violating machinery, but they cannot seal the entire building.

While disposing of the petition, the SC order said: “the building will be de-sealed, after taking photographs by the concerned authorities within 36 hours… Water and electricity supplies, if disconnected on account of violation of order dated August 25, 2023 passed by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Chandigarh, which has now been set aside by the impugned judgment and order, will be restored within the same period”.

Why was the building sealed?

The Chandigarh administration had sealed Berkeley Square, a major commercial complex in the city, following CPCC’s directions, citing environmental violations. The directors of the firm were also slapped with an environmental compensation of Rs 3.75 lakh. A notice in this regard was served on August 31, by CPCC member secretary T C Nautiyal.

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“In exercise of the powers conferred under Section 33 (A) of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and under Section 31 (A) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and U/s 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the directions are hereby issued that Berkeley Realtech Limited shall close their unit with immediate effect,” the notice had stated. It also asked the concerned authorities to disconnect the supply of electricity and water to the building, and seal it with immediate effect.

The consent issued to Berkeley Realtech Limited under Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and authorisation issued under Hazardous & Other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 was also revoked by the administration.

The CPCC had also said that they had found that the complex was running a commercial complex along with a service station and had installed two diesel generator sets of 320 KVA each and two of 62.5 KVA each. The unit also offered denting and painting services and installed a paint booth on the third floor of the building. According to the conditions issued to them by the CPCC, the unit was not supposed to install or use a diesel generator set without prior permission of the CPCC.