HC asks MCD to explain change in land use to construct multi-level car parking

 The Delhi High Court has asked the MCD to explain how the “land use” of a site was changed by its standing committee to ‘Multilevel Car Parking’ from part residential and public.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma asked the municipal body to file an affidavit and state the details of the competent authority which allowed for the change of land use under the Master Plan for Delhi.

The court’s direction came on a PIL filed by lawyer Amit Sahni against the alleged demolition of a primary school in Karol Bagh to make space for the construction of a commercial space and multi-level car parking facility.

In its recent order, the court recorded that the affidavit filed by MCD revealed that the land use at the site of construction has been changed from “Part Residential and Part Public Semi Public (Police Station)” to “Multilevel Car Parking” by the Standing Committee of MCD.

“MCD is granted time to produce details regarding the competent authority (along with the relevant statutory provisions) which is competent to allow the change of land use under the Master Plan for Delhi,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula, in the order dated August 14.

“A short affidavit to that extent be filed within a period of four weeks from today explaining the source of power and the process followed for allowing the change,” the court ordered.

In the petition filed in 2022, the petitioner contended that the land in question was designated for use as a school in the layout plan of the area, which still remains unamended, therefore it is “not at all permissible to construct a commercial building with shops and offices or to construct multi-level parking” there.

The construction of the purported multilevel car parking is arbitrary, unlawful, unreasonable, and in derogation of the principles contained in Article 14 of the Constitution of India, the petition has said.

“In the garb of multilevel parking, in fact, a Mall containing Food Court, Shops and Offices is being constructed by Respondent No. 2 (construction company) by razing of the Primary School of MCD which has been in existence since 1927. The said plot of land is admittedly reserved for school use, and no land user change has been obtained for the said plot,” it stated.

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The petitioner said that on the piece of land under contention a primary school was running since 1927 but in 2019, NDMC stopped using that land and shifted the students to another smaller school.

The petitioner also submitted that the premises was subsequently taken over by the Horticulture department and has 43 trees which are 50 to 100 years old and would be demolished for the purposes of construction.

Being a “mall with food court, shops and offices,” the project is “not at all likely to reduce the congestion in the area or provide additional parking space,” it has further claimed.

The petition emphasised that the primary school is for the benefit of children in the age group of 4-10 years, belonging primarily to economically weaker sections of society, who are not expected to travel longer distances.

The conduct of the authorities is against the spirit of the Right to Education Act and smacks of commercialisation, it said.

The matter would be heard next on September 18.

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