A Supreme Court bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, on February 9, 2018, asked the Delhi authorities whether any environmental impact assessment was conducted, before proposing amendments to the Delhi Master Plan-2021, aimed at providing relief from the ongoing sealing drive. The court also asked the Delhi government, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the municipal agencies to file, within a week, an affidavit giving details on whether issues like safety of buildings, traffic congestion, parking and availability of civic amenities were taken into account, before proposing the amendment.
The bench also asked the authorities to apprise it about availability of statistics with the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, regarding the pollution level in Delhi, from 2007 onwards. It took serious note of a report of the court-mandated monitoring committee, which is carrying out a sealing drive in Delhi, that MLA OP Sharma and councillor Gunjan Gupta, along with their supporters, had obstructed the panel members from carrying out their work in Shahdara zone.
The bench issued show-cause notices to Sharma and Gupta, asking them to explain why contempt of court action should not be initiated against them, for interfering in the committee’s work. It directed both of them to remain present before the court on the next date of hearing and listed the matter for further proceedings after two weeks. The top court also directed the Delhi police commissioner to ensure that protection is given to the members of the monitoring committee, so that they can carry out their duties.
The DDA recently proposed bringing uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residence plots and complexes at par with residential plots, in a move that would come as a big relief to traders facing the threat of sealing. FAR is the ratio of a building’s total floor area (gross floor area) to the size of the piece of land upon which it is built.
The apex court had earlier observed that the rule of law over sanction to construct buildings, had ‘completely broken down’ in Delhi and expressed concern over illegal construction. It had also ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee, to identify and seal such offending structures. The monitoring committee, comprising KJ Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner, Bhure Lal, chairman, EPCA and major general (retd) Som Jhingan, was set up on March 24, 2006, by the apex court.