Successful PIL filed by Heritage Trust to save the iconic Pratap Vilas Palace: The palace is over 100 yrs old heritage complex within the confines of the city of Vadodara housing the erstwhile Railway Staff College and home now to the National Academy of Indian Railways and the National High Speed Railway Corporation. To cater to their growing needs, the Railways proposed to construct a 5 storey structure facing the PVP within the Rajabaug premises. The Contention of Heritage Trust and citizens of Vadodara was that this would completely destroy and vitiate the Heritage complex and its ecological system.
The Heritage Trust took upon itself to contest this development in the Gujarat High Court by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) – pleading that there was enough land allocated to the Railways for the purpose for which this construction was envisaged and pleaded to the Court to direct the Railways to stop the construction and find an alternate site for the same.
The Honorable Gujarat High Court granted a stay, during the pendency of which the Railways moved the building from the originally planned 56 ft to 320 ft away from the PVP although still within Rajabaug. Though ultimately after a 8 month battle the stay was vacated by the Court with various assurances provided by Railways, Heritage Trust was not fully convinced all issues were addressed adequately and filed an SLP in the Supreme Court in 2021.
The Honorable Supreme Court bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud (now CJI) and Justice Hima Kohli heard the pleadings of Heritage Trust and issued notices to the concerned parties. In response, the Railways filed an affidavit in late 2021and through the same, gave notice of its intention to completely shift the proposed building from the front of the PVP to an alternate location. This alternative location is behind PVP and hence the beauty and glory of PVP remains preserved which is a win-win situation to all concerned.