About Court’s stopping realty projects

The decision of the high court here to ask Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to form a committee of stakeholders to consider the problems of a South Delhi residents group trying to stop Reliance Industries (RIL) from constructing a proposed mega-mall has re-kindled an old debate over judicial overview in the construction industry.

According to Citizen Alliance, a group of residents from the area which has been fighting a DDA decision to sell the land to RIL for this purpose, it is a victory of sorts. “Our fight is not against RIL but DDA, which should have protected (our) rights…We believe DDA not only misled us but the buyer of the land as well,” said Ashutosh Dikshit, president of the Alliance.

They allege group land use norms were changed for the sale to happen. The area in question is surrounded by the major localities of Alaka nanda, Greater Kailash-2 and Chittaranjan Park. It also has more than one major school and, says the group, the proposed development would cause a traffic and logistical nightmare.

The proposed mall, in Alakananda, has been opposed by residents since its initial allotment by the DDA. Area denizens went to the HC in 2013, claiming irregularities in converting the previously earmarked community land into commercial property and allowable for sale through auction. RIL has consistently maintained the allotment was through a valid auction process and all necessary legal permissions have been complied with.

It had purchased a four-acre plot in 2007 through an auction from DDA for Rs 304 crore. While the company obtained all the licences necessary to build the mall, slated to be a six-storied building with a three-floor basement, it faced a lot of opposition from area residents. The mall was supposed to be opened in 2014.

The interplay of courts and the realty sector is not new. Earlier this year, the HC in Mumbai ordered demolition of the multi-story Adarsh Housing Society in the affluent Colaba area. The site was originally proposed for a six-storey Kargil war widows’ complex and was eventually converted into the 31-storey luxury apartment. The lack of proper environmental clearances and other minuses culminated in the Union government’s order of demolition, upheld by the HC in April. The matter has now been appealed before the Supreme Court (SC).

Another instance of conflict in the recent past was regarding construction activity in the Greater Noida corridor near the Okhla bird sanctuary. Activists had approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014, over concerns to the impact on the eco-sensitive area and demanded cessation of ongoing developments in the area. The NGT followed a former SC ruling, which mandated a 10-km prohibitory radius for construction in cases where no specific rules were in force and denied completion certificates to over 100,000 home buyers. After which the state authorities made a reclassification of the eco-sensitive zone, subsequently approved by the Union ministry of environment and forests; the situation was then legally resolved.

Credits Business Standard

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