The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) found itself at the receiving end of the Supreme Court on Thursday with the court hauling it up for the anti-encroachment drive failing to act against the rich who usurped pavements and street spaces outside their residences.
“There are big bungalows in the city which are encroaching on public land. Pavements and streets in front of these bungalows are used for building homes for guards. Why are you not taking action against them?” the court asked DDA.
As DDA placed its status report on its anti-encroachment drive backed with photographs, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta slammed the agency for amending Delhi Master Plan 2021 in a hurry without giving citizens full opportunity to file objections. Significantly, the bench asked DDA to be ready with an alternative plan in case the court negated the law providing immunity to illegal structures and amendments to the master plan.
You have to be realistic and practical and you must prepare a plan on what to do when the amendment is struck down. There is a possibility of it and you must have a plan B,” it said. Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh said the authority was not sparing any illegal construction and the ones mentioned by the court would be demolished soon. He said the anti-encroachment drive could not be initiated across the city at one go and it would be done in phases. He assured the bench that appropriate action would be taken to remove the encroachments.
No, first remove these DDA officials for missing on their responsibilities and then look into unaccounted assets of previous employees who minted money through creating demand supply imbalances.jhhandoobalm Balm
The bench also ticked off DDA for hurriedly amending the master plan to protect the interest of traders who were facing the heat for carrying out commercial activities from residential premises. The court noted that DDA had given just three days’ notice to people to file their objections to the proposed amendments. “For every affidavit, you seek at least four weeks’ time and even then you fail to file a response in court. How can you say that ordinary people be given just three days’ time when you seek a month’s time to file a response? There cannot be different standards for the common man and the government authority,” the bench said.
DDA contended that the master plan needed to be amended to accommodate an ever-growing population and it allowed mixed land use to ensure people accessed commercial activity in proximity to where they lived. It said the court’s concerns regarding the impact of amendments on the environment and infrastructure of the city had been examined in detail and there was no illegality. The court is examining the validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act passed in 2006 to protect illegal constructions and misuse of residential premises for commercial purposes. Though the law was framed to provide one year of amnesty, the Centre has repeatedly extended the deadline through legislation, the last being in December, to protect illegal constructions till 2020.