Updated: August 21, 2021 8:16:19 am
The Delhi High Court has asked the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to take into view the recommendations of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) on the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LZB) Boundary and Development Guidelines which were amended in 2019, and take a decision on it within three weeks.
Justice Rekha Palli directed the Centre to particularly take a decision on the Commission’s recommendation to exclude certain areas — Jor Bagh, Golf Links, Sunder Nagar, Bengali Market, Ashoka Road, Mandir Marg, Panchsheel Marg, Sardar Patel Marg and Chanakyapuri — from the LZB. “While considering the recommendations, the ministry will keep in mind that the recommendations made in para 4.2 do not in any manner seek to interfere with the LBZ guidelines, but only recommend exclusion of some areas having modern constructions from the LBZ, and also take into consideration the fact that the LBZ has its own peculiar bungalow style features,” the court said in its order.
The bench was hearing a clutch of petitions by plot owners and residents who want to reconstruct or make changes to the existing buildings.
Proposal met with objections in 2015
In 2015, the Delhi Urban Arts Commission had proposed to reduce the LBZ area from the present 28.73 sq km to 23.60 sq km. This would have excluded many areas such as Babar Road, Bengali Market, Sundar Nagar, Jor Bagh, and parts of diplomatic area in Chanakyapuri. However, objections to the proposal were raised by expert groups such as INTACH and the Indian Society of Landscape Architects, which had highlighted the incongruity of densifying one of Delhi’s few lung spaces.
While setting the date of the next hearing on September 1, the court asked the Union ministry to file the affidavit informing it about the decision.
The petitioners submitted before the court that the commission had made the recommendations in 2016, but the same were returned by the ministry with a direction to make certain corrections. The commission prepared its fresh recommendations in August 2019, but they were never sent to the ministry.
The commission argued before the court that the fresh recommendations were not forwarded as the ministry had already made it clear before the court that it was not inclined to make any changes to the LBZ guidelines.
“The court is unable to appreciate this stand of the commission. Be that as it may, in view of the admitted position which emerges from the record that these recommendations, prepared by a statutory body, have not even been placed before the ministry, the commission is directed to forthwith forward the recommendations prepared by it to the ministry,” Justice Palli stated in the order.
LBZ refers to the Lutyens’ area where there are restrictions on construction. An exclusion of any area from this zone would mean they won’t come under those regulations.
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