Warning to Government, Judiciary and other Authorities. Rajesh Chopra
|Illegal alterations in
Lutyens' zone to be removed
NEW DELHI: The Union Government on Wednesday assured the Delhi High Court that it would demolish all unauthorised alterations and constructions carried out in bungalows allotted to Ministers, Members of Parliament, Judges and senior Government officials in the Lutyens' Bungalow Zone here.
Division Bench:- Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam submitted before a Division Bench comprising Justice Vijender Jain and Justice S.N. Aggarwal that the Government had taken a decision to demolish these illegal alterations and constructions.
The Bench gave two weeks to the Government to file an affidavit on the assurance. The matter would now come up for further hearing on April 18.
Mr. Subramaniam further submitted that the Government would also submit to the Court guidelines on the demolition to be carried out.
He said alterations and additional constructions that had been built as per the guidelines of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) would be spared.
The High Court had last year taken suo motu note of the matter on the basis of media reports about alterations and constructions carried out by certain occupants, including Ministers and MPs, of these bungalows without prior permission of CPWD in violation of the guidelines governing the maintenance of these houses.
Affidavit:- The Union Ministry
for Urban Development had earlier in an affidavit said that the occupants
of as many 231 such bungalows were found to have made additional constructions
and additions in their houses without taking permission from the competent
New Delhi, December 16
As the Centre’s counsel sought to take shelter under the plea of the matter being pending before the Supreme Court, a Division Bench of Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma took exception to the submission and insisted on getting a reply to its query made on November 30.
The Bench sought to know if the Supreme Court was seized of the issue of PMO’s authority to frame guidelines on construction in Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ).
“We have given you (Centre) directive asking you to file a reply as to what is the PMO’s authority in framing the guidelines. There is already a law made for it by Parliament. Is this what the Supreme Court has asked you?” it asked.
The Bench said it wanted to go to the root of the matter and was determined to get Government’s reply on the PMO’s authority on the issue.
Centre’s counsel Anil Nag tendered an apology and sought four weeks to file the reply. While fixing February 8, 2006 for further hearing, the court said “next time don’t come with an excuse that the matter is pending in the Supreme Court”.
Amicus curiae Rekha Palli complained that almost 50 per cent of the bungalows in the Lutyens’ Zone were constructed without any sanctioned plan.
Earlier, the Bench had questioned PMO’s authority to frame guidelines on alteration to official bungalows allotted to politicians and bureaucrats in Lutyens’ zone.
“Any power to make such alterations or constructions should emanate from a statue or legislation in force. We wonder, how the PMO can frame any guidelines in this regard,” the Bench had observed on the last date of hearing.
The court had taken exception to Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P P Malhotra’s submission that the matter pertaining to issuance of fresh guidelines vis-a-vis the constructions in the LBZ was being examined by the PMO.
Earlier, the court had asked the Centre to remove all illegal constructions from Lutyens’ zone.
The court, which took suo moto cognizance of newsreports, had on October 19 rejected a status report filed by the Centre which indirectly sought to justify the alterations to the bungalows on the ground of paucity of space as Ministers, MPs were visited by a large number of people and as such needed additional accommodation for their security and visitors.
“Whatever guidelines are
being framed are illegal and the PMO has got no right to do it. If guidelines
are to be framed they have to be done through proper legislation and by
a competent authority empowered by law,” the Bench had said.
MCD to define city spaces and how you build there
New Delhi, April 13: The MCD will soon be amending the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act, allowing it to change building bylaws in the city.
MCD Commissioner Rakesh Mehta said the existing bylaws have inherent flaws. ‘‘The same building bylaws apply to all parts of Delhi even though the city has grown manifold. Many kinds of Delhi co-exist — the Walled City, Lutyens’ Delhi, parts developed by DDA after 1960s, unauthorised constructions and urban villages,’’ he said.
Mehta said the MCD plans separate building bylaws for different kinds of spaces. Ten categories have been chalked out by its Task Force. These include urban villages, Walled City, unauthorised colonies and pre-1962 areas such as Malcha Marg and Gold Links (planned by the British after 1947 by scrapping all previous bylaws).
Task Force member and architect Sudhir Vohra said one of the proposals is ‘‘urban renewal’’, which means redevelopment of defunct areas. ‘‘Old unstable structures will be brought down and rebuilt. This is anyway being done by the builders. Now there will be defined norms for it,’’ said Vohra.
Mehta pointed out that redevelopment is absolutely essential. ‘‘Certain areas such as Karol Bagh have been declared slums under the Slum Clearance Act. This is because these spaces are overdeveloped, so the government declared it a slum to stop further activity. But instead of solving the problem, this gives the builders leeway to construct illegal structures,’’ said Mehta.
Heritage will be given importance. Mehta said the MCD will involve the Archeological Survey of India in deciding the building bylaws. Areas surrounding a heritage zone will adhere to the aesthetic nature of the monuments. For example, the height of neighbouring buildings cannot exceed the monument’s.
Vohra said: ‘‘Heritage structures are of two kinds — with archeological and architectural importance. Town Hall or the SBI branch in Chandni Chowk have architectural importance. Both need to be preserved.’’
Vohra added that a policy is being considered by which architects will sanction building plans. ‘‘The architects will, however, provide a copy of the plan to the MCD. This will ensure faster construction and of better quality,’’ he said.
Mehta said that since the 1990s, the Environment Protection Act has gained importance but it doesn’t find a mention in the DMC Act or the building bylaws.
The MCD is also going to step in where the DDA has been found lacking. Although the DDA is responsible for the Masterplan and 16 zonal plans, the MCD will now look at developing sub-zonal and micro-zonal plans defining land use. This means every colony and plot will be defined, documented and caste in iron by the civic body.
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