The Delhi High Court Thursday said it cannot allow the redevelopment of Central government housing projects in south Delhi, unless authorities show the basis on which permission was given for construction. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao said the amicus curiae, who are experts in urban planning, have expressed concerns over the projects, and pointed that “there was no application of mind” by the government while granting approval for them.Amicus curiae Gautam Bhan, an urban planning expert, told the bench that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Nauroji Nagar contained several portions that were “copy-pasted” from the EIA report seeking clearance for a mine in Tamil Nadu. Based on it, he said, environment clearance (EC) was granted to fell trees and for the work.
Pointing out that names of lakes in Tamil Nadu were mentioned in the EIA report for Nauroji Nagar, Bhan said it clearly showed “non-application of mind”. “We take a serious note of it, so it needs consideration,” the bench said, adding that “if we allow today to go ahead with the redevelopment and at later stage find that there was some deficiency, there will be a big problem”.
“Till date you (government and authorities) might have spent Rs 100 crore for the project. So it is better to stop at this stage only, otherwise when you put in Rs 500 crore for the same, there will be a big loss in comparison to the Rs 100 crore,” the bench remarked. The court’s oral observation came on a plea by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) Limited to allow them to take steps for securing one of the seven residential projects at Nauroji Nagar, since the site might get damaged due to rain and lead to a cave-in on the Ring Road near it.
The counsel for NBCC said there will be a huge inconvenience to the public at large, as the road will be blocked, to which the bench said, “You can take steps to prevent the cave-in and ensure safety of people,” clarifying that construction will not be allowed, unless authorities place their stand on whether they are revisiting their decision with regard to six other projects.