Delhi HC lifts stay on construction at Nauroji Nagar
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday vacated the stay on construction of a commercial hub in south Delhi’s Nauroji Nagar being developed by NBCC India and is part of the Centre’s plan to redevelop seven government residential colonies.
The court, while lifting the stay after one-and-a-half years, said there was “no violation of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act” .
Construction can begin now as “issues of water and traffic congestion” had been taken care of, the court stated. It said there was no violation of the Master Plan of Delhi-2021, a concern raised by environmentalists and urban development experts.
A bench of Justice G S Sistani and Justice Jyoti Singh lifted the ban on construction imposed by the high court on August 30, 2018, on a plea filed by Kaushal Kant Mishra, seeking to set aside the terms of reference (ToR) and environment clearances (EC) granted for the redevelopment of the seven south Delhi colonies by the Centre. The plea contended it would lead to the felling of over 16,500 trees.
Disposing of the matter on Tuesday, the court said, “There is no violation of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act and there is adequate compensatory plantation in lieu of felling of trees at Nauroji Nagar.”
The construction was stayed following a report by prepared by urban planning expert Gautam Bhan on the redevelopment on the court’s order. In his 57-page report submitted in August 2018, Bhan had said the central government’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) , necessary to obtain environment clearance, had glaring irregularities.
He had said the EIA report was “plagiarised”. He had said since it is an integrated plan, environment clearance should be taken for the entire project rather than the individual units.
The court separated the Nauroji Nagar project from other six projects after the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change told the court it would take fresh environment clearance for the six projects.
On Tuesday, the court said there was no violation of the Master Plan and asked the petitioner to place his grievances before the New Delhi Municipal Council as the building plan was yet to be sanctioned.
The court said since the civic body is seized of the matter, it should keep the grievances of the petitioner while granting the sanction for the building plan.
“We see no violation of the Master Plan and are of the view the environmental clearances have been correctly given for the Nauroji Nagar project. However, since NDMC is still seized of the matter, we may only observe that while granting the final sanction, the concerns of the petitioner may be taken into account,” the bench said.
It said if NDMC is of the opinion that it needs to revisit any of the issues flagged by the petitioner, especially relating to the ECs, the civic body is free to seek clarifications or reports from the authorities.
Highlighting an affidavit of NDMC, the court said all no-objection certificates had been obtained for the project. It said once the issues of water and traffic congestion had been taken care of and objection certificates had been obtained from respective departments, it was satisfied that there was no impediment in completion of redevelopment projects at Nauroji Nagar.
“We have no hesitation in saying the NOCs had been issued by the respective departments and they would have been issued only after a careful analysis of ground realities and provisions of law”,” the court said.
Initially, in 2018, clearances granted for redevelopment work in seven colonies of Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, Mohammadpur, Nauroji Nagar and Srinivaspuri were challenged.
The NBCC couldn’t be contacted for a comment.
Environmentalists were upset with the judgment. Kanchi Kohli, environment campaigner and researcher with Centre for Policy Research (CPR), said, “It is disappointing that the stay has been vacated, as several issues were raised regarding the project. For the purpose of availing of benefits from commercialising the land, all projects were aggregated. But for the purpose of environment clearance, no cumulative assessment was done.”