HC won’t budge on heritage havelis #3

Posted on Apr 10 2018 - 6:48pm by admin

Tells Owner-Petitioner It Won’t Stay Any Sealing Order


New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday refused any relief to a builder/owner of one of the heritage properties in Walled City where the court has ordered corporation to act against illegal construction.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar made it clear to the owner that it won’t entertain any plea for a stay against sealing taken by the north corporation.

“Have you seen the photographs? This is not renovation,” the bench told the counsel for the builder who tried to convince the court that there was no illegal construction going on in the building, which is a heritage property.

The counsel then urged the bench to make Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) a party to the proceedings so that it can re-examine the constructions raised and give an opinion.

But the bench was unmoved. “Usually even before a request for impleadment is made by a lawyer, we do it, but not in this case,” the bench told the owner, asking him to first place the building plans and other key documents of his property on record before it hears the plea further.

The owner had filed an application challenging the north corporation’s action, which itself was taken after the high court cracked the whip last week.

Alarmed that many properties, including Haksar Haveli, the centuriesold heritage building in old Delhi, faced threat from builders and rampant unauthorised construction, the bench had ordered immediate physical inspection of these by the commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation and sought a report.

High court acted on a plea that alleged illegal construction was being carried out in the area that housed famous heritage properties such as Haksar Haveli where India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru married Kamala Nehru.

The court had also sought a report from the corporation to explain how such illegal construction was being carried out in these properties, including two heritage buildings, and demanded to know the action taken against officers under whose jurisdiction such action was carried on.

On Monday, the high court posted the latest plea by one of the building owners for April 13 when it will consider the report.


Notified or not, havelis are all unsafe


New Delhi: Of the eight properties listed by the Delhi high court for illegal construction April 4, Haksar Haveli in Sita Ram Bazaar and another haveli in Jogiwada are notified heritage properties. Another haveli at Churiwalan is listed for notification by Intach but is pending.

Notified or not, these buildings regularly suffer from neglect and unauthorised constructions. Haksar Haveli may have a rich history going back to Jawaharlal Nehru, but that hasn’t stopped vandals from targeting it. Only small portions of the haveli still stand today; much of its original grandeur has vanished through the years.

The erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi had brought out a list of heritage properties in the Walled City. There were 757 buildings in that for notification, but very few buildings were havelis. So Intach came out with a second list of buildings for notification that had 551buildings that were mostly havelis. These were notified in 2016. A third list is pending notification.

“Most of these havelis are over a century old and need protection. Owners, however, either don’t want to cooperate or don’t have the means to do it. These havelis need to be preserved as many of them are being altered beyond recognition. A notified heritage building cannot be altered but few pay attention to the rules,” said a heritage expert.

Haksar Haveli was in the original 2010 list of MCD. Today, it’s possible to miss it completely. Most parts of the original building have either collapsed or been demolished through the years, and only a narrow lane for entry could be seen. Entry is restricted though locals all know the structure for being the famous Haksar Haveli where Nehru married Kamala Nehru.

The Jogiwada haveli was in the second list. “This haveli is largely in ruins and retains only its crumbling ground-floor facade. The building has an early colonial design with the use of an ornate entablature for its pointed arch entrance,” said an expert.

Many havelis are fading away like this despite growing awareness. “It doesn’t matter if a property is notified heritage building or not as the north corporation has failed to check violations. People are defacing buildings, constructing additional floors, altering the original design or simply letting the building fall to pieces because they can’t afford repairs,” said a resident of Kucha Pati Ram.

The high court order gives hope, nevertheless.

Heritage crumbles as ambitions go sky high


New Delhi: A municipal corporation team visited some of the eight heritage properties in the Walled City recently on Delhi high court’s orders. The team was accompanied by the court-appointed amicus curiae Anil K Aggarwal and the petitioner as well. TOItagged along with the team.

The team was led by commissioner Madhup Vyas and deputy commissioner Ruchika Katyal. The first stop was the Haksar Haveli, which is better known locally as Nehru haveli. The original structure is no longer present, just old lakhori brick walls. Five different shops are operating from there. A multistorey building covered with tarpaulin sheet right next to the site has become a contentious plot. Abdul Mueed, the owner of this property located near Sadak Prem Narayan said they were being unnecessarily targeted. “Why pick on just these properties? If the petitioner is so interested in heritage, why don’t they help in redeveloping the Haksar Haveli, which contains tonnes and tonnes of rubble? We will help them,” Mueed said. The builder has been booked for violation.

Down the road on Katra Dinanath near Chowasi Ghanta Mandir, a seven-storey building is coming up at ‘Rajmahal’ where once there were old structures with “mihrabs and jaalis”. The owner who didn’t wish to be named said the old building had kuchha construction and it had become too dangerous. But he didn’t answer why he was building seven floors.

A large number of houses in the neighbourhood have similar violations. Corporation officials from City-Sadar Paharganj zone said they would keep track of the violations. “Action under DMC Act has already been initiated against all these eight properties. Some have been ‘booked’ while demolition notices have been issued to others. We had carried out demolitions on March 16 as large scale unauthorised construction was going on there,” an official said.

At places, the team was surrounded by locals who also resorted to sloganeering.

Aggarwal said he was satisfied with the inspection. “The commissioner has now seen the construction and he has to take action as per the file on a case by case basis. At some properties he was little afraid that commotion may happen but that is understandable considering the environment,” Aggarwal said, adding that the team had also taken notice of the rampant unauthorised constructions at other properties and the court would be informed accordingly. “Taking action against a few properties here and there will not solve the problem. The court will have to go to the root cause of the problem,” Aggarwal said.

Sanjay Bhargava, president of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, spoke about the urgent need of action against rampant unauthorised constructions ruining Walled City’s heritage. “We have always been after Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation to stop this. All the havelis are being destroyed, and the builder lobby is hand in glove with the corporation,” Bhargava said He added, “Foreigners don’t come to see CP-like markets but places like Chandni Chowk. But look at the mess.”

About the Author