Authorities not proceeding with sealing drive: Monitoring Committee

New Delhi: A monitoring committee, which is mandated by the court to identify and seal unauthorised constructions in Delhi, today claimed in the Supreme Court that civic bodies have refused to carry out sealing drive on the ground that amendments in Master Plan of Delhi-2021 were not finalised yet.

Master Plan of Delhi-2021 is a blueprint for urban planning and expansion in the metropolis to ensure overall development and the proposed amendments are aimed at bringing a uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residential plots and complexes on par with residential plots.

FAR is the ratio of a building’s total floor area (gross floor area) to the size of the piece of land on which it is built.

The matter was mentioned before a vacation bench of justices U U Lalit and Deepak Gupta which said it would hear the issue on June 14.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who is assisting the top court as an amicus curiae in the sealing matter, mentioned the issue before the bench and referred to the apex court’s May 15 order which had said that the monitoring committee would continue with its duties and responsibilities.

He placed before the bench a report of the monitoring committee and said that government authorities have said that since the amendment in the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 was not finalised, they would not allow sealing to go on.

Kumar said that on June 8, the monitoring committee had inspected some areas in South Delhi and asked authorities concerned of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to take action against some unauthorised structures.

“They (authorities) said we will not seal them,” he said.

To this, the bench asked him to serve the copy of the report to the counsel appearing for the Delhi government, the Union of India as well as SDMC and said that the matter would be heard on June 14.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, who is appearing for Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in the matter, said that he would inform the DDA about it.

The monitoring committee, comprising K J Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner; Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority; and Major General (Retd) Som Jhingan, was set up on March 24, 2006, by the top court.

The court had on May 24 rejected the Centre’s plea seeking modification of its order in which the DDA was asked to invite suggestions from the public on amending the Master Plan of Delhi-2021.

The top court had on May 15 accepted DDA’s action plan in which it had listed out steps including launching of an interactive website and a smart phone application to enable the public register their grievances regarding illegal constructions and given the authority 15 days time to make it operational.

The DDA had also proposed to fix responsibility on officials in cases of illegal construction activities in the national capital and violation of the master plan and building bye-laws.

In its five-page action plan, the DDA had earlier said that it intends to check all ongoing and future unauthorised constructions in the city under the supervision of a special task force which was constituted on April 25 following an apex court order.

The court had on March 6 stayed any “further progress” in amending the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 to protect unauthorised construction from ongoing sealing drive in the national capital, sternly observing that this ‘dadagiri’ (bullying tactics) must stop.

Ghazipur landfill site saturated, EDMC moves NGT seeking alternative land

The saturation of the Ghazipur landfill site and non-availability of alternative land to manage garbage has prompted the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) to move the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The EDMC today moved an application seeking urgent direction to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to hand over a 130-acre piece of land at Sonia Vihar and a 50-acre plot at Ghonda Gujran for solid waste management facilities on a priority basis.

A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim directed the DDA to file its reply before April 23, the next date of hearing.

During the hearing, advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the EDMC, said the two pieces of lands were approved and appraised by the Central Pollution Control Board and it should be handed over to the corporation for handling municipal solid waste.

Advocate Kush Sharma, appearing for the DDA, told the bench that a detailed reply would be filed by it.

“The only available site in EDMC jurisdiction i.e., Ghazipur landfill site which was fully saturated way back in 2000 continues to get 1,600 metric tonnes of waste of Delhi on a daily basis even after 17 years of the scheduled closure.

“This is an alarming situation since the gases trapped in the site are a ticking time bomb, which, if an explosion takes place, will result in cataclysmic repercussion for the thousands of people who live in close proximity thereto,” the plea read.

Recently, deaths have occurred due to landslides at the landfill site, which has risen up to 65 meters, about 40 meters more than the permissible limit, it read.

The experts consulted in this regard, including Manoj Dutta from IIT Delhi, have clearly stated that no reparation work on the site is possible, if continued dumping occurs, the plea added.

“The only reparation including composting, bio-stabilisation, windroz dressing, conversion into biodiversity park (on the lines Swarn Jayanti Park on Ring Road) can only take place, if this landfill site closes for good. There is no other alternative possible in these circumstances,” the EDMC said.

The tribunal had earlier directed the Delhi government and the civic bodies to submit an action plan for identifying alternative landfill sites and setting up waste-to-energy plants in the city.

It had said it was unfortunate that at a time when the national capital was grappling with the huge quantum of waste to the tune of 14,000 metric tonnes on a daily basis, the authorities were involved in a “blame game” and showing an irresponsible attitude.

With the rapid development and massive urbanisation of the megacity, the waste generation was increasing on a daily basis which has resulted in the saturation of the existing landfill sites which can handle only up to 7,000 metric tonnes of waste, the tribunal had said.

SC questions Delhi government and DDA over proposed amendments in DMP

The Supreme Court today directed the Delhi government and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to apprise it whether an environmental impact assessment was conducted before proposing amendments in the Delhi master plan, 2021.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also asked DDA, Delhi government and the municipal agencies to file withing a week an affidavit giving details on whether issues like safety of buildings, traffic congestion, parking and availability of civic amenities were taken into account before proposing the amendment.

The bench also asked the authorities to apprise it about availability of statistics with the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee regarding the pollution level in Delhi from 2007 onwards.

It took serious note of a report of the court-mandated monitoring committee, which is carrying out a sealing drive in Delhi, that MLA O P Sharma and councillor Gunjan Gupta along with their supporters had obstructed the panel members from carrying out their work in Shahdara zone here.

The bench issued show cause notices to Sharma and Gupta asking them to explain why contempt of court action be not initiated against them for interfering in the committee’s work.

It directed both of them to remain present before the court on the next date of hearing and listed the matter for further proceedings after two weeks.

The top court also directed the Delhi police commissioner to ensure that protection is given to the members of the monitoring committee so that they can carry out their duties.

The DDA recently proposed bringing uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residence plots and complexes at par with residential plots, a move that would come as a big relief to traders facing the threat of sealing.

FAR is the ratio of a building’s total floor area (gross floor area) to the size of the piece of land upon which it is built.

The apex court had earlier observed that the rule of law over sanction to construct buildings had “completely broken down” in Delhi and expressed concern over illegal construction.

It had also ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee to identify and seal such offending structures.

The monitoring committee, comprising K J Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner, Bhure Lal, Chairman, EPCA and Major General (Retd) Som Jhingan, was set up on March 24, 2006, by the apex court.

Move to alternate facility: HC to visually impaired students

The Delhi High Court today directed a group of visually impaired students, whose hostel was recently demolished, to immediately shift to the alternate facilities being provided to them by the DDA.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said its order of January 3 asking them to move out of the area has to be complied with.

The court was displeased that the visually impaired students’ had not moved out from the site and were living there in a tent, saying “our orders will not be frustrated like this”.

The bench said it took up the issue of the students on its own after coming to know of their plight and was working to ensure proper facilities for them.

“This is not expected when we were giving them facilities. Our orders will not be frustrated like this. We do not approve of this. Please shift to the community centre. If they do not move, we will ensure physical removal,” an angry bench said.

It said “we have not left any poor or disabled person out on a limb.”

The remarks of the court came after the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) submitted that it was asking the students to shift to the community centre, but they were not moving out.

The court told the students’ lawyers that by not shifting from the site, they were “encroaching on public land”.

It gave them time till January 24, the next date of hearing, to move to the community centre.

The court on January 3 also had told them to move to an alternative accommodation, saying they were illegal occupants of government land and cannot claim legal right over it.

The court was hearing a PIL by nine visually impaired students, who have alleged that DDA acted illegally in forcibly evicting them from the hostel in south-west Delhi where they were residing since 2000.

The court has taken up the issue on its own also after it came across a news report that 20 students were sleeping in the open after their hostel, Louis Welfare Progressive Association of the Blind in Janakpuri here, was demolished on December 15 last year.

The report had claimed that the occupants were neither given prior information about the demolition nor ample time to gather their belongings.

Around 20 people, mostly students of Delhi University or the nearby Sarvodaya school, used to stay there.

Source : PTI

Delhi HC to ensure right to life of displaced persons of Kathputli

Delhi HC to ensure right to life of displaced persons of Kathputli
Delhi HC to ensure right to life of displaced persons of Kathputli

The Delhi High Court today said it will ensure that the right to life of persons displaced from Kathputli Colony here were not violated while refraining from taking action on the allegation that developers were hand-in- gloves with the DDA during the demolition drive.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed the DDA and the Delhi Police to maintain “strict status quo” in the West Delhi colony with regard to 53 slums.

It said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) shall strictly ensure that these 53 structures are not demolished or damaged till further order of this court.

It said the residents, who are allegedly ineligible for rehabilitation, will get time to appeal against the DDA’s demolition drive.

The bench directed the authorities to communicate their decision to the residents within one week.

It also made clear that so far as other 95 jhuggis are concerned, no person shall be permitted to occupy them.

Spread over an area of around 14 acres, the Kathputli Colony is home to a large number of puppeteers, magicians, singers and musicians.

“It shall be open for the DDA to fix markings on such jhuggis and to seal the same,” the bench said, adding that it would appoint an observer who will be present at the site during the demolition drive.

The court’s order came on a PIL filed by some residents of the colony and an NGO challenging the demolition and the manner in which it was carried out.

The counsel for the NGO even alleged that despite the order of the high court, the DDA was demolishing structures of the people who were yet to appeal and establish that they were eligible for relocation.

The counsel said that the developer of the site had deployed goons who were not allowing the residents to stay and forcefully evicting them. They are hand-in-gloves with the DDA and other agencies, so that the land is vacated at the earliest, he alleged.

The petitioners alleged that the residents were beaten up by the police during the demolition drive and not allowed to take their belongings before their houses were razed.

This allegation was refused by DDA’s counsel Ajay Varma, saying they have been “faithfully abiding” by the directions made by the court on October 31 and November 1.

The bench also objected to the allegations that DDA was hand-in-gloves with the developers in the demolition drive, saying “it is for us to satisfy that everything is in place.

We will ensure that human rights are not violated”.

“We will take a strong action against anybody who has breached our orders,” it said, adding that “it was our concern over right to life, so we have taken up this issue.”

“We are here to protect their life,” the bench observed and said persons ineligible for relocation as per the DDA and whose houses were demolished in the drive should not be removed from the area so that they can prove their eligibility for relocation and rehabilitation.

( Source – PTI )

DDA’s record in securing its lands appalling: Delhi HC

DDA's record in securing its lands appalling: Delhi HC
DDA’s record in securing its lands appalling: Delhi HC

Terming the record of the DDA in securing lands acquired by it “appalling”, the Delhi High Court has directed creation of a unit for evolving land management policies and clear encroachments on public land.

The direction was issued to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi government and the Centre by a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg, which said the team or cell should be given statutory status and be manned by high ranking officers.

The court said the Centre shall consider the feasibility of creating such a body with its personnel.

“This unit or cell, in the opinion of the court, should continuously monitor the land management policies of DDA and ensure that wherever needed, court orders are implemented and also oversee all other relevant aspects,” the bench said.

The directions by the court came while disposing of a 12 -year-old PIL that the DDA was unable to secure its land in Delhi and that a large extent of up to 42,000 acres was either encroached or not taken possession of.

The bench said that “the long, 12-year saga of this case has revealed that DDA’s record in securing lands acquired by it and in taking over possession as well as in ensuring them to be encroachment free, has been appalling”.

It said there was never any clarity about the total extent of land acquired by the authority and what was indeed in its possession.

“Even as on date, precise details are not forthcoming, readily,” the bench noted.

It said that acquisition proceedings are undertaken at considerable public expense and cost with a view of executing a planned public project, but before the project can start the acquired land is encroached upon.

As a result, the DDA or the agency concerned was “unable to execute the project in a timely manner” and in some cases it “cannot progress and is impeded to a great extent”, the bench said.

( Source – PTI )

Whole of Delhi is unauthorised: Delhi HC

Whole of Delhi is unauthorised: Delhi HC
Whole of Delhi is unauthorised: Delhi HC

Entre Delhi is unauthorised, an anguished High Court remarked today while hearing a plea regarding the ongoing demolition at Kathputli colony in west Delhi.

The observation was made by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar when an NGO representing some residents of the area said that jhuggis were demolished in violation of the high court’s October 31 and November 1 orders.

The high court in its two orders had directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) not to demolish the jhuggis of persons who were not eligible for relocation as per the land owning agency.

The NGO has claimed that the directions of the high court were not being strictly complied with by DDA.

It also alleged before the bench that its order yesterday allowing three NGO members to visit the area to identify the slums of people ineligible for relocation was also not followed by the DDA.

A woman activist, who was part of the three member panel, alleged in court that some men at the site misbehaved with her.

Pursuant to the submission, the bench directed the Station House Officer (SHO) of the area to ensure protection to the three-member panel.

The court also reiterated its earlier order that there should be strict compliance of its directions.

With these directions, the bench listed the matter for hearing on November 16.

The court had on October 31 put on hold the demolition at the site for two weeks, but had modified its order the next day by allowing DDA to demolish jhuggis whose residents were eligible for relocation and had voluntarily moved out of the Kathputli colony to the transit camps at Narela and Anand Parbat here.

Spread over an area of around 14 acres, Kathputli Colony was home to a large number of puppeteers, magicians, singers and musicians.

It is the first slum in the city to be taken up by the DDA for in-situ redevelopment with the help of a private developer, who in turn will get a substantial part of land for commercial use as part of the project.

The stay order had come on a PIL filed through advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra, on behalf of the residents and an NGO, National Alliance of People’s Movement, claiming that the DDA issued a notice on October 25 for vacating the area giving them only four days to move out.

( Source – PTI )

NGT allows redevelopment work around Qutab Golf Course

 The stalled work to redevelop Qutab Golf Course in a posh South Delhi loacality is all set to begin, with the National Green Tribunal lifting the stay order on the construction activity.

The green panel, which gave its go ahead to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to carry out the construction, however, put a condition that the work around the lakes in area would remain stalled.

“DDA may carry out other activities excluding the activity in relation to the lake,” the bench said.

A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim granted the relief to the DDA after senior advocate Rajiv Bansal and advocate Kush Sharma sought urgent directions to carry out other development activities around the lake.

They told the green panel that if the order was not vacated, it would cause a great loss to the public exchequer.

The matter was fixed for further hearing on August 8.

On July 12, the bench had restrained the DDA from carrying out any activity after it had failed to respond to an NGO’s plea alleging that concretisation of the lakes would adversely affect recharge of ground water in the Qutab Golf Course at the Lado Sarai area.

In its plea, the DDA had contended that the five lakes, as alleged by the NGO, were already in existence since the inception of the golf course in 2000.

“Hence, the allegation that DDA is constructing new artificial lakes is outrageously false and the same is a figment of the petitioner’s imagination having publicity- centric mind and have been made with a sole motive of just to gain publicity by interfering in the smooth operation of DDA’s plan for renovation of the Qutub Golf Course.

“The renovation has been framed with a view to stop the wastage of water during watering on turf, for getting rid of contaminated grass and weeds, for planting variety of hybrid grass and to further ensure that sufficient green area is maintained within the Golf Course premises,” the plea had said.

The DDA had contended that it tried to file its reply in the case which had annexures including certain maps of the site in question but had failed to do so due to non-conversion of maps in PDF format.

“Due to the new NGT guidelines for e-filing of documents, DDA tried to contact various photostat vendors to convert the maps to PDF format as required by the registry but due to non-availability of the technology in the nearby area, the maps could not be converted to PDF format and the reply could not be filed on time,” it had said.

The stay order of the green panel had come during the hearing of the plea by NGO CHETNA seeking a stay on such construction activity and asking the DDA to place on record the source of water that is intended to be used for the lakes.

The NGO had claimed that due to insufficient rainfall in Delhi, the artificial water bodies proposed to be constructed, cannot possibly be filled up on a sustainable basis by rainwater.

‘Give action plan on restoring Yamuna floodplains’

'Give action plan on restoring Yamuna floodplains'
‘Give action plan on restoring Yamuna floodplains’

The National Green Tribunal today directed the DDA to submit an action plan with regard to restoring Yamuna floodplains where the Art of Living’s World Cultural Festival was held last year.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to nominate a senior officer and submit the report within a week.

“We direct DDA to nominate a senior officer as a member of a committee which shall constitute chief engineers from the irrigation department of Delhi and UP.

“This committee shall submit an action plan with reference to flood plains of Yamuna where AOL’s event was held last year,” it said.

The tribunal also directed the committee to consult and refer to the findings of the expert panel, appointed by NGT earlier to assess the damage caused to Yamuna floodplains, before submitting the action plan.

Advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for petitioner Manoj Mishra, sought urgent directions from the bench seeking restoration of the damaged Yamuna floodplains.

He said that monsoon has already arrived and immediate orders were required for rejuvenation of Yamuna floodplains.

However, advocate Nikhil Sakhardande, appearing for the Art of Living (AOL), opposed the submission and said that no direction was required at this stage because the matter was part heard and hearing in the main case is still going on.

He also said that rains had occurred after the event last year as well, adding that the matter should be heard in detail on the date already scheduled.

The matter is now fixed for hearing on July 28.

Earlier, the AOL foundation, headed by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, had questioned the findings of an expert committee of the NGT on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains after a three-day cultural event organised by it.

It had also raised doubts over the satellite images used by the experts committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, to estimate the damage.

Earlier, the NGT had slammed the Delhi Development Authority for casting aspersions on the findings of its expert committee on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains due to this cultural event.

The green panel had also questioned the DDA for granting nod to AOL, despite three initial rejections and said the civic body should have exercised proper caution while granting approval to the cultural extravaganza.

Earlier, an expert committee had told the NGT that a whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to the cultural extravaganza.

( Source – PTI )

Remove illegal occupants in religious structures: Delhi HC

Remove illegal occupants in religious structures: Delhi HC
Remove illegal occupants in religious structures: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court today refused to grant relief to a man against an anti-encroachment drive in a park around a monument here, observing that “squatters” cannot be allowed in such buildings just because their ancestors also stayed there.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Navin Chawla made the observation after one of the residents of Amir Khusro Park next to Sundar Nagar approached it, a day after the court ordered removal of squatters while refusing to stay the DDA demolition drive.

The man alleged he was not heard prior to demolition of the structures and claimed that his family had been staying there for last 40 years since their ancestors used to take care of the structure.

Sending a strong signal against encroachments on public land, the bench said, “We are seeing that heirs occupy most of the religious buildings in Delhi. This cannot be allowed. If your ancestors have been there, it does not mean you will also stay. We are only implementing the law.”

“Religious buildings have to be protected and illegal occupants need to be removed,” it said.

The bench said he has to move out of the park within two days observing that “park has to be a park and it cannot be allowed to be converted into a colony”.

“It’s (the park) between the road,” it said.

“You (man) will have residence only if the Delhi Master Plan 2021 permits. Law has to be enforced,” the bench said.

The high court had yesterday allowed DDA to remove squatters from the park in central Delhi and had refused to stay the ongoing demolition exercise in which DDA razed more than 100 temporary and pucca structures encroaching it.

The court had said it will not tolerate unauthorised constructions on government land and also reiterated an earlier direction where it had threatened contempt proceedings against the DDA and the Delhi Police if they failed to clear the green zone of encroachers.

The DDA counsel had told the court that the demolition team had found a mini-factory and a temporary air conditioning rental office operating inside the park.

The high court had last month issued directions to the authorities to remove encroachers inside and around the 12.8- acre Amir Khusro Park that also borders Lala Lajpat Rai Marg and Lodhi Road.

Earlier, it had instructed DDA to conduct a survey and find out who the encroachers were before removing them.

( Source – PTI )