A three-member expert panel, set up by the Delhi High Court to look into the menace of unauthorised construction, has expressed concern over the authorities’ failure in urban planning, to provide for the population influx into the city. The panel, in its report, said that “Population pressure have beaten us hollow and caught the policy makers short of ideas continuously. Our systems and those entrusted to plan for the cities, have failed to anticipate and provided for increasing numbers. Urban planning is only in furtherance of builders’ interests and not a citizen’s life.”
It told a bench, headed by acting chief justice Gita Mittal that there are ‘blatant safety and regulatory violations’ in every colony of the national capital. The committee, comprising former CBI director DR Karthikeyan, ex-India Habitat Centre director RMS Liberhan and retired district judge Ravinder Kaur, further said that the building structures showed that ‘lawlessness was rampant’. “Law enforcers appear to have given up on their duties, as lane after lane and colony after colony shows blatant safety and regulatory violations,” it said.
It said that the commissioner and mayor should be held accountable, for the failures on the part of the civic bodies. “A junior or assistant engineer’s accountability is a facile accountability, with no deterrent effect. This should be enforced now,” the report said. The committee also highlighted in their report that all the colonies have layout plans and they are supposed to be on the MCD’s website. However, many are missing, either because they are yet to be uploaded or are yet to be prepared. “Physical surveys of the various colonies regularised by the Delhi government, are incomplete or not done. These deficits are not only handicaps but serious impairments of the corporations’ capacity to enforce the law relating to building controls. To cap it all, not many functionaries were aware that these plans could be accessed from the MCD’s websites,” they said.
“Illegal buildings are nothing short of appalling”, the report said, adding that some of the localities like Rajendra Nagar, Paharganj and Karol Bagh are ‘outstanding examples of man-made disasters and are seemingly beyond redemption’. “Even where violations stare you in the face, such as in Karol Bagh and indeed everywhere, these are overlooked and this cannot be anything other than a deliberate oversight, as even an untrained eye can see them. Obviously, the induced state of coma has come from a powerful opiate,” it added.
It further said that there were at least 2,000 unauthorised colonies and inevitable manipulation for their regularisation. “The review of byelaws and development controls, has to be concurrent and keep pace with the population influx into the city,” it added.
The court committee was appointed, after it was flooded with several PILs, alleging presence of illegal constructions in all corners of the national capital.