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Thousands of buyers waiting to take possession of their flats in Noida suffered a setback Tuesday as the Supreme Court declined to interfere with a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order restraining the Noida Development Authority from issuing completion certificates for nearly 30,000 apartments built near the Okhla Bird Sanctuary.

The stay by the green bench also puts into question the fate of another 70,000 under-construction flats near the sanctuary. Nearly 60,000 home buyers are affected by the order. The NGT had on April 3 directed the Noida authority to stop all construction within a 10-km radius of the sanctuary and had said the ban would continue until the forest ministry clearly demarcated eco-sensitive boundaries for the sanctuary.

Jaypee Infratech, which has about 4,000 flats awaiting clearance, challenged the NGT order but it was declined by a vacation bench of Justice JS Khehar and Justice C N Agappan.

 The developer’s senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the stay was hurting home buyers as they can’t take possession till the NGT order is stayed.

The green bench, on October 28, 2013, had stopped construction of flats near the sanctuary and had asked the Centre to fix a no-development boundary. The Centre asked the states for recommendations and on February 25, UP proposed that the no-development zone be fixed at 100 metres. In March, Delhi made a similar suggestion.

But on April 3, the NGT reiterated its last year’s order. It criticised the UP government’s recommendation and set the 10-km radius zone.