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SC bans construction in 1,797 unauthorised colonies in Delhi
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered stoppage of construction in about 1,797 unauthorised colonies of Delhi and asked the Centre to report on action taken to remove encroachments from public spaces and streets within two weeks.
The order came after amicus curiae senior advocate Ranjit Kumar assisting the court with the ongoing sealing drive pointed out that construction is rampant in unauthorised colonies. As no building bylaws apply to these areas, authorities have failed to take any action against such illegal construction, he added. As of now, out of the total 1,797 unauthorised colonies, Kumar submitted that provisional regularisation certificates were issued to 1,218 colonies that have led to “lawlessness” in these colonies.
The Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the Centre and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), “On the one hand, you have colonies that are authorised. They have to follow all the norms and bylaws. On the other hand, you have unauthorised colonies, which do not follow any law because of your inaction. Once they (unauthorised colonies) are regularised, you will regularise whatever they have constructed illegally. We cannot have an area where there is no rule of law and here we are talking of over 1,700 colonies.”
For the DDA, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh submitted that building bye-laws will come into play once the colonies are regularised. But the Bench felt the need to pass urgent orders. It said, “We direct that there should not be any further construction in any unauthorised colony or public land.”
The amicus curiae insisted that the authorities must specify how many acres of Government land, on which unauthorised constructions had come up, have been retrieved. He pointed out that innocent persons in unauthorised colonies were making construction by paying money to authorities under the belief that it shall be regularised. This was contrary to the 2007 judgment by the court ensuring all construction in the Capital to follow building bye-laws in order to stop commercialisation of residential colonies.
The court further directed the Centre to immediately set up a special task force (STF) to oversee enforcement of laws and ensure removal of encroachments from public roads and streets. Although Centre requested the court to lift the stay on proposed amendments to be made to the Master Plan Delhi 2021, the Bench asked the Centre to first show its bonafides by showing action taken against illegal construction. The DDA informed the court that about 27.02 acres of public land have been reclaimed since April 1 this year.
Meanwhile, the Bench also asked the Central Groundwater Board to submit the status of groundwater level in the national Capital since 2000 till date. This information was key to a submission made by amicus that rampant commercialisation and illegal construction has created enormous stress on civic amenities such as water, electricity, sewage disposal, which has remained constant.
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