Propose STF to monitor unauthorised constructions in Delhi, Centre tells SC

The Supreme Court on Monday informed by the Central government that it has proposed to set up a Special Task Force (STF) to monitor issues relating to unauthorised constructions in national capital and will take steps to demolish them.

The STF will identify encroachments in government land in different localities of Delhi and reclaim the land, said Additional Solicitor General N.S Nadkarni, appearing for the Central government, told the court.

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta asked the Central and Delhi governments and other authorities not to make unauthorised construction and sealing of illegal structures in Delhi a "political" issue.

"There are a few points and you please take these into account. This is not a political issue," the bench said.

The bench asked the authorities to look into the aspects of fire safety, especially in schools, and the massive depletion of groundwater while proceeding in the matter and also made it clear to the authorities that the "health of the citizens of Delhi was much more important than profit" and they would have to deal with the issue in a holistic manner.

Nadkarni, in a document submitted to the court, said as a first measure, unauthorised encroachment on public streets, pavements, footpaths, parks, etc will forthwith be removed and cleared by the STF, which will have representatives of the Delhi Development Authority, the three civic bodies as well as the the New Delhi Municipal Council, the Delhi Jal Board, Delhi Police, Traffic Department, and Delhi's Transport, Revenue and Fire departments.

The STF for enforcement and monitoring under section 5 (A) of Delhi Development Act, 1957 will also suggest course of action to the Central government with respect to the unauthorised colonies of Delhi and regular follow-up till its resolution, and will also oversee the effective and proper enforcement of the applicable laws by the local bodies on unauthorised construction.

The objective of STF would also include identifying the areas of congestion of traffic in Delhi and suggest measures to remedy the same to local bodies and other agencies.

"The STF shall see the traffic management strategies are devised and implemented with or without consultation with traffic expert, planners and the UTTIPEC, overview compliance of fire safety measures, add/modify any other object which is in line with improvement of habitat in Delhi," said the document, adding that STF meeting shall meet at least once in a month and submit monthly report to Lt. Governor or the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.

The ASG told the bench that meetings were held among the representatives of DDA, members of monitoring committee, Secretary, Housing and Urban Affairs, officials from NDMC and MCDs, Delhi government, and many points were discussed including encroachment, misuse of land, absence of civic amenities like parking space and comprehensive view of Master Plan of Delhi 2021 and several other things including the provisions of the Delhi Development Act and the Regulation.

"In the new MPD 2021, no new street be declared as commercial street unless parking space is shown first and if there is no parking space that street will not be declared as commercial streets," said the report.

"The large scale of construction of building beyond permissible FAR, misuse of public land etc. and other similar violation have to be stopped forthwith and a complete no tolerance to these illegal activities has to be shown," it added.

The apex court was hearing pleas relating to the validity of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislation, which protect unauthorised construction from being sealed in Delhi.

On April 3, the bench slammed the Central and Delhi governments and civic agencies for their failure to stop unauthorised constructions in Delhi.

In December last year, while expressing concern over rampant illegal construction in Delhi, the court said that the authorities do not appear to have carried out their statutory duties in preventing illegal construction and ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee to identify and seal such offending structures.

The bench now posted the matter for further hearing on April 18.



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