HC issues notice to DDA and Centre over land use change for Central VistaUpdated: Feb 13, 2020 00:03 IST
A week after Delhi Development Authority (DDA) held a public hearing to change land use for the Central Vista redevelopment project, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the land-owning agency to inform it before notifying the changes.
The order came on two petitions that challenged the basis of the land use change and short notice given by the agency for the public hearing. The court issued notices to DDA and the Centre to file their replies within two weeks.
“In case a decision is taken to notify the proposed changes in MPD-2021, DDA will approach the court before taking such a decision,” the court said in an interim order. The next date of hearing is March 24.
One of the petitions filed by senior advocate Sanjay Hegde on behalf of seven people challenged the short time during given by the land-owning agency for the public hearing.
In December last year, DDA had approved land use change of 101 acres in the heart of the city for the central government’s ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project. This includes land use change of a 15-acre plot from recreational to residential on Dalhousie Road near South Block for the Prime Minister’s new residence. The DDA had invited public’s suggestions/objections regarding the proposed changes.
“People were not given adequate time for the public hearing. They (DDA) had informed people on February 5 for the public hearing held on February 6 and 7. DDA received 1,292 objections and people were heard in groups of 200 in a span of one hour. The hearing was a mere formality,” said Hegde.
Anuj Srivastava, one of the petitioners, questioned the hurry in which DDA is changing land use. “The public was given a very short notice. There were people who couldn’t attend due to the short notice. Moreover, there was no response from DDA during the hearing on what basis the land use was being changed,” said Srivastava.
The other petition by environment and urban activists Rajeev Suri has challenged the redevelopment project, citing the DDA Act. Suri said, “Since the proposed changes are fundamental in nature and will deprive citizens the enjoyment of open spaces, and change the historicity of the iconic Central Vista and increase the density of the area. The change in land use must conform to Section 11A of DDA Act, and Article 14 of the Constitution, which abjures arbitrary decisions. Further, increasing government offices and changing the historicity of this area violated Master Plan of Delhi-2021, which specifically seeks to reduce government presence in the NCR and protect heritage of Central Vista.”
DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor said, “We have made the land use change as per the rules. We will file our reply in court. As for the public hearing, we informed all people who had filed their objections at the two-day public hearing.”
Union housing and urban affairs ministry version awaited