The controversial Master Plan of Delhi-2021 comes up for legal scrutiny on Tuesday before the Supreme Court, which would take up a bunch of petitions challenging its provisions on the ground of lack of infrastructure and proper basic amenities like water, electricity, traffic, parking.
A Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, which recently stayed the implementation of 27 per cent quota for OBCs in elite central educational institutions including IITs and IIMs, would hear arguments from petitioners Delhi Pradesh Citizen Council and others, the Centre, Delhi Government and THE Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
Delhi Government Counsel D N Goburdhun on Monday mentioned the matter before the Bench and filed its response in the matter. The Delhi Government maintained that courts could not interfere in policy matters.
“The Master Plan came within the ambit of a “policy decision” of the Government and the Government was the best judge to determine its policies,” it submitted.
The Delhi Government said that all possible measures had been taken in the new Master Plan to provide for adequate housing, particularly to weaker sections, addressing the issue of small enterprises, slums, infrastructure, basic amenities, environment and conservation of heritage. The affidavit, however, blamed the population explosion in the capital for most of its mess.
The Centre too has defended the impugned Master Plan and the mixed land use policy on the ground that this urban planning method was becoming popular worldwide. It promised to provide adequate infrastructure and the basic amenities like water, electricity, parking traffic and sewerage system with the help of its ‘dream document’.
Earlier, warning that Delhi faced the danger of becoming an urban mess, Amicus Curiae Ranjit Kumar had told the court that implementing the new Master Plan without augmenting the basic amenities would destroy the city and even planned areas would be converted into slums.
Kumar, who was asked the examine the MPD-2021 by the court, said it was clear that the Centre did not weigh the MPD’s impact on social and physical infrastructure before taking the decision to convert residences to commercial use or to allow increase in Floor Area Ratio up to 400.
“The stand of the Respondents (Centre, DDA etc.) that such basic amenities will be provided in due course is like putting the ‘Cart before the Horse’ and is against all principles of town planning, the Constitutional obligations and the Parliamentary enactments,” the set of suggestions filed on Kumar’s behalf said.
“Delhi is already chaotic and the Respondents want to create an urban mess, thereby destroying the city and even the planned areas would be converted to slums,” he said.
Kumar said the MPD-2021, as it exists can only be implemented after the government agencies abide by the undertaking given to the court in 2003 that basic amenities and civic services would be augmented before any further activity in terms of increased FAR or notifying commercial/mixed land streets.
He suggested that in the meantime the Government should also think of redeveloping the existing commercial areas, many of them in dilapidated state, so as to put them to maximum use and accommodate more people.
He pointed out that the Government agencies have already admitted in various proceedings that they do not have adequate amenities and that they have failed to meet the targets projected and yet want to commit the same mistake over and over again.
He also questioned the rationale behind increase in FAR to make more dwelling units when a citizen of Delhi was not getting enough water or electricity and there was no proper treatment or discharge of sewage and the environment was polluted.
He said the Government could not direct that residential colonies meant for living and using as residence should be converted for commercial use thereby depriving the residents of their right to live peacefully in a residential colony.