Pleas in High Court challenge Central Vista project

Court issues notice to Centre and Delhi Development Authority seeking their response within 2 weeks

Published - February 13, 2020 01:25 am IST - New Delhi

In a first major legal hurdle to the redevelopment of the Central Vista project, the Delhi High Court has taken cognisance of two separate petitions which raised common issues on the changes, including land-use, proposed by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notices to the Centre and the DDA and sought their response within two weeks. The court also directed the DDA to approach it before taking a decision to notify the proposed changes in Master Plan Delhi 2020-21.

Eight new government office buildings, a new Parliament House and a residential complex near the South Block that could house the homes of the Prime Minister and the Vice-President are among the projects under consideration for the redevelopment of the Central Vista.

One of the petitioners, Rajeev Suri, has asserted that there is change in land-use in as much as the green areas which is described as “recreational”. District Park is proposed to house the new government house. Mr. Suri’s plea claimed that the DDA has relied upon 2001 Zonal Development Plan in respect of the proposed changes. His plea contended that the alterations which are proposed will involve the change of land-use and standards of population density.

“Such a change in land use will deprive Delhi of its most iconic Central Vista, steeped in historicity and known for pomp and pageantry of the Republic of India,” the plea said, claiming that the DDA is not vested with the requisite power to bring about such changes,

The second petition by Lt. Col. Anuj Srivastava (Retd.) and others challenges the public hearing which was held subsequently terming it as a “mere formality”. The DDA had invited comments or objections for the change of land use for the project. In the petition,he argued that about 1,292 objections were submitted to the DDA out of which 200 objections were dealt with summarily.

The plea pointed out that “extremely short notice” was issued to the parties for the public hearing.

“A one-day notice for public hearing does not allow people to make arrangements to be present at the public hearing,” the plea said. It said about 1,292 people were called for hearing within a few hours over just two days during the middle of the week. It submitted that 200 people were called within time slots of just an hour, rendering any public hearing completely “meaningless and impractical”.

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