The Madras High Court has dismissed cases filed against the ongoing construction of an underground vehicle parking lot and commercial establishments at the Thiru Vi Ka Park, spread over nine acres of land and situated close to the Shenoy Nagar Metro station.Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad rejected the plea after recording the undertaking of the State government, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) that the character of the park would not be altered in any way.Advocate General Vijay Narayan told the court that facilities at the park would actually be enhanced by establishing grass lawns, a seating area, badminton courts, a reflexology walkway, yoga pavilion, laughing therapy zone, elderly physiotherapy and kids play area.He said the authorities had decided to divide the park into six zones and create facilities such as floor fountains, skating rink and an audio-visual screen. He pointed out that the vehicle parking lot and some shops would be established only under the ground.Explaining it in detail, he said the CMRL had decided to construct two levels of basement, with a floor area of 19,775 sq m, at each level. Of the total built up area of 39,550 sq m, the retail area would be established on 14,000 sq m.The common and service area would occupy 3,108 sq m, leaving the rest for parking 338 four wheelers and 917 two-wheelers at a time. He added that 83% of the floor area was being used for parking and 17% shall be used as common area.He told the court that there was no need for obtaining environment clearance if the built-up area was less than 50,000 sq m. The judges said: “It is a settled law that environmental clearance is not meant for stopping all development projects. The purpose of environmental clearance is to ensure that there is no irreversible damage to nature.”In so far as the present issue was concerned, it had been made clear by the authorities concerned that the park would be maintained with state-of-the-art facilities.The CMRL had also said that it would plant 1,250 trees around the park. It gave a break up of the species, which included mango, neem, Ashoka and teak. It was also stated that a modern plantation method, known as Miyawaki, would be adopted to ensure adequate tree cover.After recording the submissions, the judges said: “This court has to balance between the need to provide adequate vehicle parking space in the city on one hand, and the cutting of trees, which is detrimental to ecology, on the other.”The judges directed the government to ensure that tree cover on the park was restored at the earliest, and the noise levels in the locality, during the course of construction, was within permissible limits, so as to cause least inconvenience to the local residents.
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