Updated: October 6, 2017 2:02:57 am
Jantar Mantar, the capital’s authorised protest site for decades, will soon go silent with the National Green Tribunal Thursday ordering that no further dharnas be held at the spot. A bench headed by Justice R S Rathore ordered the Delhi government, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Delhi Police Commissioner to “immediately stop all dharnas, assembling of people, public speeches and use of loud speakers at Jantar Mantar Road within four weeks”. It also said all protesters at the site will be shifted to Ramlila Maidan.
Jantar Mantar has been the site of many famous protests — including Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, Babri Masjid demolition protests and the Tamil Nadu farmers’ protest.
The order comes after a group of residents of Jantar Mantar Road filed a plea with the NGT last year, saying that though the area was earmarked as ‘residential’ in the 2021 Delhi Master Plan, protesters had erected tents on the road and put up loud speakers. The plea added that some protesters stayed at the site for years together.
The Tribunal said, “The respondent (NDMC) shall shift the protesters to Ramlila Maidan, Ajmeri Gate, forthwith…. The NDMC chairman, Delhi Police chief, and Government of NCT of Delhi shall file compliance reports before the NGT within five weeks from the date of judgment.”
Addressing issues of pollution and cleanliness raised by the petitioners, the NGT said, “It is amply clear that the petitioners are suffering because of gross violation of laws and non-performance of duty by authorities. The environmental condition at Jantar Mantar Road — in relation to noise pollution, cleanliness and waste management — has grossly deteriorated. Besides constant dharnas, noise pollution and health problems due to unhygienic conditions generated by agitators… is unique in the case.”
It also pulled up the NDMC, saying, “In the circumstances, we are of the considered opinion that merely giving directions to the respondent authorities to control the agitators would not be of any use.” On shifting all protesters to Ramlila Maidan, the Tribunal said, “The place for such activities (dharnas) has already been earmarked at Ramlila Maidan— for gathering of more than 5,000 people. This would strike a balance between the rights of people with respect to their freedom of speech and expression, and that of residents of Jantar Mantar Road to live a peaceful and pollution-free life.”
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