Disaster drill fine but illegal buildings bigger disaster: HC

On a day when Delhi held a mock drill for disaster management following an earthquake,the Delhi High Court described unauthorised construction in the city as a serious man-made disaster and said it would have a “devastating” impact if not checked immediately.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:February 16, 2012 4:16 am

On a day when Delhi held a mock drill for disaster management following an earthquake,the Delhi High Court described unauthorised construction in the city as a serious man-made disaster and said it would have a “devastating” impact if not checked immediately.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw took a swipe at the Delhi government for organising a disaster management drill on the one hand and on the other,proceeding to regularise unauthorised colonies in the city.

As the bench took up a case in which a petitioner challenged the powers of the Central and Delhi governments and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to regularise unauthorised colonies,Justice Sikri referred to a meeting,which High Court judges and officials had with disaster management authorities last week.

“In this meeting,officials from the disaster management team told us that the biggest disaster in the city is the man-made disaster — unauthorised construction — and we could not agree more with them. The situation in Delhi is bearable now,but we are sure this will have a devastating impact if it is not checked immediately,” Justice Sikri said.

The judge then described it as “strange” that on the one hand,officials of the disaster management team had such an opinion,and on the other hand government and other agencies were proceeding to regularise unauthorised colonies.

“We have to deal with scores of cases on a daily basis relating to unauthorised construction,” the bench said.

The petition,filed by H R Suri through advocate Anil K Aggarwal,challenged the powers of DDA to frame The Regulation for Regularisation of Unauthorised Colonies in Delhi,2008,and said that no such provision for regularisation of unplanned and illegal massive construction was permissible under the Delhi Development Act.

The petitioner contended that even the Delhi government was barred,under a Constitutional provision relating to land development and colonisation,to frame any rules in the matter. It said the elected municipal body — the MCD — was the exclusive agency,which could take over and bring out schemes for improvement of such unauthorised and unplanned colonies.

The petition alleged that DDA had failed in curbing unauthorised construction,and to cover up its laxity,it illegally regularised as many as 567 unauthorised colonies in 1990.

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