DEMAND FOR STOPPING IT, TESTING s.11A PUBLIC NOTICE OF 18.09.2004 FOR ITS “IN-SITU REGULARISATION” FOR CONFORMITY WITH LAW AND DISPOSAL OF RESPONSES TO IT - forthwith and, in any case, before disposal of s.11a Public Notices of 04.11.2004 (redevelopment of industrial clusters) and 07.11.2004 (commercial development in historic water body in ridge area)
Delhi’s ridge-river eco-system constitutes what draft National Environment Policy calls “incomparable entity” and is crucial to the region’s ecology in terms, especially, of water. The riverbed and ridge areas are protected against exploitation by mindless development by Delhi Master Plan (Delhi Development Act) and also by CGWA and amended EIA notifications (Environment Protection Act).
Restrictions against development, accompanied by neglect of mandatory conservation, open up protected space for “encroachment” for uses not developed, eg, a large amount of Delhi’s low-income housing backlog has been pushed to the banks of Yamuna. As they become “prime”, these areas also attract up-market development, eg, posh unauthorized colonies and party-places in the ridge. Since when Master Plan revision started (amidst corruption, exposed in 2003) government projects have also been building a fait-accompli to “open-up” these protected spaces in the revised Plan.
On 16.09.02 in a landmark judgment, in PIL based on Master Plan and CGWA notification violation, Delhi High Court stopped a 56 Ha scheme for mega-housing (by firms like L&T, AlCon, etc), etc, near Sultangarhi Tomb (at S-W apex of ridge-river triangle) and asked for enquiry by DDA Chairman (LG) so identical illegalities are not perpetuated. (1700 objections were filed in response to s.11A Public Notice for Master Plan modification arising from the PIL). On 03.03.03 High Court also ordered (in PIL not based on Master Plan / CGWA protections) removal of all riverbed encroachments in two months.
In violation of development and environmental law, Metro Depot on the riverbed had started. Instead of stopping this identical illegality in light of Sultangarhi order, in December 2002 DDA issued s.11A Public Notice to change Master Plan land use to, in effect, “regularize” metro development on various sites, including Metro Depot where it proposed 52 Ha changed from riverbed/green to Transportation.
Following the High Court order of 03.03.03, a suggestion was made to both governments for an action plan (in absence of Zonal Plan for riverbed) with priorities based on extent of encroachment and environmental damage and non-conformity with Plan targets. Top priority for removal was suggested for Metro Depot. Instead, Metro Police Station was added to it, stripping the state of moral authority to remove any riverbed encroachment, since required force was identically situated.
Meanwhile, GNCTD (which has invested 20 cr in IT Park) had declared so-called policy to promote “hi-tech” industry like IT. In 2002, reportedly on suggestion of L&T Infocity / Feedback Infrastructures, a decision to use 6 Ha at Metro Depot for IT Park was taken, although even the Public Notice of December 2002 proposed only Transportation. Central Water Commission had reportedly shot down a proposal for a 15 Ha amusement park there, but IT Park was reportedly processed by GNCTD for grant of SEZ status and cleared by Delhi Urban Art Commission (which had also cleared Sultangarhi project). Construction on one of three buildings (total 90,000 sqm built space) started in November.
At the time Union Tourism Minister was pursuing his plans for the riverfront across the Metro Depot and High Court, on its own motion, had taken up order of 03.03.03 (on which no compliance had occurred in two months then). In January 2004, with 13th Lok Sabha dissolution imminent, the Standing Parliamentary Committee that had invited (on 22.06.03), but not heard, views on DDA after CBI exposed the DDA scam visited metro sites and a high level meeting convened by Tourism Minister decided to clear, in name of court, a portion of Pushta as per the Minister’s plan. In February 2004 Chief Minister visited the IT Park site and, a week later, Pushta clearance – in war-like operation fraught with illegalities – began across the river, starting with Gautam Puri II near GNCTD Secretariat (itself a riverbed “encroachment”, in violation of Master Plan Land Use Plan).
As slum after slum fell to Pushta clearance, across the river (on the east bank, where Akshardham had already come up further south and Games Village was proposed) floor upon floor was added to the IT Park. On 16.04.04 DDA issued s.11A Public Notice to modify the Plan to allow unfettered “property development” at all metro stations, on sites up to 3 Ha. “Property development” sought to be “regularized” by the previous Public Notice was all on sites in excess of 3 Ha and, in response to the new Public Notice, demolition was sought, especially of “property development” on the riverbed.
On 07.05.04 Supreme Court order for industries unequivocally upheld the Master Plan to, in effect, give government choice between compliance through time-bound implementation of Plan provisions for industries and their closure. While so-called policy to promote vague “hi-tech” industry rather than manufacturing according to Plan favoured closure, change in government at the center opened a window of opportunity for compliance through the statutory solution. A note on this was added to the response to s.11A Public Notice of 16.04.04 and also, with suggestion of debate on any other plan for compliance, in response to s.11A Public Notice of 21.06.04 for industries arising from the Court order.
Construction on IT Park continued, regardless of environment and development law and court orders (to which were added Apex Court orders for river committee and notice in PIL against Akshardham) and s.11A objections. In August industrial closure began – like Pushta clearance, in name of the court and by processes fraught with illegalities. Intuitively fair political consensus against the closure unfortunately expressed itself in the inept demand for “in-situ regularization”, first mooted in 1999 by GNCTD and comprehensively rejected by the Court with impeccable reasoning in 2004. Amidst raging debate on “in-situ regularisation” for industries, for IT Park (industry as per GNCTD), on 18.09.2004 DDA issued s.11A Public Notice for a proposal to change Master Plan land use of 6 ha on riverbed to commercial (IT Park) – a Public Notice that, in effect, admitted the illegality of IT Park under construction since 2003 and “proposed” its “in-situ regularisation”.
At least 200 responses were filed – by those evicted from riverbed / ridge areas for willful projects, those seeking lawful relocation, those seeking restoration of riverbed to urban agriculture / community-owned eco-tourism, those objecting to “identical illegalities” as Sultangarhi, those objecting in view of prior objections, etc. Intervention was also sought from authorities whose clearances are required, from Police, high offices, etc. In contempt of the Public Notice and responses filed, construction of IT Park continued. (photographs1)
On 04.11.04 GoI notified s.11A Public Notice for industries’ redevelopment (which, unlike “in-situ regularisation”, is permissible), but GNCTD reportedly told Supreme Court it was committed to closing units. Then it publicized (before GoI) the Public Notice, asking (without authority) for responses to be filed under intimation to it. On the other hand, in contempt of IT Park Public Notice, at India International Trade Fair (IITF) on theme of IT-and-Agriculture Delhi Pavilion (by DSIDC) show-cased a model of the illegal IT Park (as industry, also in IITF advertisements) – in fitting image of GNCTD’s lopsided “vision”, under larger-than-life models of vegetables hanging from the ceiling, presumably depicting agriculture. (It also show-cased its illegal industrial relocation scheme, which one India-Tech Foundation had lately honoured, like one Building Congress had honoured the illegal Secretariat). (photographs2)
At the same time, amidst Chatth celebrations, for which GNCTD had organised various “ghaats”, was also reported GNCTD proposal to “develop” a “ghaat” – in place of Gautam Puri II, with which Pushta clearance had begun. (Those evicted had filed objections in response to Public Notice for IT Park, with the additional affidavit about their illegal eviction and resettlement in the SLP, mentioning IT Park, etc, that they had filed the day eviction began, which the court had then declined to interfere).
After central government publication of the industries’ Public Notice, on 19.11.04, prior disposal of responses to IT Park Public Notice was sought – by Pushta cultivators (seeking restoration of riverbed to urban agriculture) in view of explicit riverbed exception in the industries’ proposal, proposal, by Pushta slum residents (seeking lawful relocation) in view of legitimizing reference in it to sub-standard resettlement if redevelopment is not viable and in context of DDA/MoUD latest slum “policy” of redevelopment and resettlement instead of housing, and by a planner with reference to news reports of metro property development regardless of Public Notices, GNCTD projection of commercial IT Park as industrial, GNCTD interference with the industries’ Public Notice, etc.
On 30.11.04, Supreme Court reportedly pulled up GNCTD for proposal to change the Master Plan for “in-situ regularisation” of industries – an obvious case of obfuscation, besides interference in s.11A, by GNCTD inasmuch as it is not empowered to change the Plan and GoI Public Notice of 04.11.04 is not for “in-situ regularisation”. Reportedly the Apex Court, in effect, upheld the sanctity of s.11A and said it would test the proposal’s conformity with law and constitutional framework. In response to the industries’ Public Notice, alternative text more likely to stand up to techno-legal scrutiny than government’s hasty proposal was suggested and request for prior disposal of IT Park Public Notice reiterated in view especially of GNCTD’s role vis-à-vis the two Public notices
On 01.12.04, in PIL against illegal government projects in ridge area (filed in face of perpetuation of identical illegalities in face of non-compliance of Sultangarhi judgment in terms of enquiry), in which notice was issued on 22.09.04, respondents sought two more weeks to reply. DMRC (impleaded because of its plans in ridge area with questions about its development on riverbed unanswered) suddenly claimed it had no role. DDA, meanwhile, had issued on 07.11.04 Public Notice to allow commercial use in historic water body in Mahipalpur (specifically mentioned in the PIL), where GNCTD had proposed a hospital (even as its illegal hospital coming up in green belt in the area is part of the PIL). In response to this Public Notice, pendency of Public Notice for IT Park (identical illegality by GNCTD-DMRC-DDA-MoUD on ecological resource site) was again mentioned.
Also on 01.12.04 a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister reviewed progress of work on the IT park. “The meeting was told that work is at an advanced stage and will complete by early next year”.
“Progress” on the IT Park on riverbed – in violation of development and environmental law, defiance of court orders and contempt of s.11A process (for legal and equal citizens’ participation) – marks progress to anomie. Citizens who have objected through afore-mentioned PIL, Public Notices, etc, to such lawlessness demand that construction of IT Park be stopped forthwith and, in view of Supreme Court’s observations about Public Notice for industries, s.11A Public Notice of 18.09.04 proposing its “in-situ regularization” be tested for conformity with law and responses to it be duly disposed off at the earliest and before s.11A Public Notices of 04.11.04 and 07.11.04.
(for and on behalf of all synergizing on MPISG platform on afore-mentioned PIL, Public Notices, etc)
Gita Dewan Verma
NB: more posted on AZ Plan on the web, please e-mail for url
To support planned development. To oppose unplanned development. To protect our future.
Sent, in continuation of requests of January 2004, to Parliament Standing Committee examining functioning of DDA with copies to President and Chief Justice of India and to CVC and CBI: covering letter3
- 1. source: http://plan.architexturez.net/site/mpisg/riverbed/itp/041016/photoalbum_photo_view?b_start=0
- 2. source: http://plan.architexturez.net/site/mpisg/riverbed/itp/iitf/photoalbum_photo_view?b_start=0
- 3. Illegal IT Park on riverbed