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Central Vista: SC asks Govt. to file affidavit on proposed change in land use

In January, the Supreme Court, in a majority verdict, had given the government the go-ahead to the multi-crore Central Vista redevelopment project. File.   | Photo Credit: KAMAL NARANG

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Government to explain in an affidavit the necessity of a proposed change in land use from bus terminal and neighbourhood park to house the new official residences of the Vice-President and the Prime Minister as part of the ambitious Central Vista redevelopment plan.

A Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and C.T. Ravikumar asked the government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, to file a short affidavit with its response on the necessity for the modification in the plan.

The hearing was based on a petition filed by Rajiv Suri, represented by advocate Shikhil Suri, who said his plea was restricted to the proposed modification of land use in plot number one.

The petition has questioned the validity of a notification issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on October 28, 2020, notifying the change in land use by proposing modification to Zonal Development Plan of Zone ‘D’ for plot number one in the Central Vista area of Lutyens Delhi.

“Recreational area is proposed to be modified to residential area... It has not demonstrated any public interest in the proposed change in land use here,” Mr. Suri contended.

Mr. Mehta confirmed orally to the court that the official residences of the Vice-President and the Prime Minister were stipulated for this plot.

“So, the public recreational area is not available now? Is the recreational area going to be transposed to some other area,” Justice Khanwilkar asked the top law officer.

Security reasons

Mr. Mehta said the play area could be shifted to some other area. But he cited security reasons too.

“The Parliament, etc, is coming up nearby... It may not be possible to have a recreational area there,” the Solicitor General submitted.

Mr. Mehta said the government would file its affidavit shortly. He convinced the Bench to list the case for urgent hearing again on Friday (October 29).

Mr. Suri argued that the proposed modification “violates right to life itself”.

“The change in land use will deprive residents of Delhi and citizens of India a vast chunk of highly-treasured open and green space in the Central Vista... Right to life includes the right to enjoyment of a wholesome life,” Mr. Suri argued.

In January, the Supreme Court, in a majority verdict, had given the government the go-ahead to the multi-crore Central Vista redevelopment project.

The verdict had focussed on the building of a new Parliament three times bigger than the existing 93-year-old heritage building and was concerned with the modification in the use of 86.1 acres of land home to India’s power corridor.

In their majority opinion, Justices Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari had said the government did not act against public trust. The Opposition had accused the government of spending public money on the redevelopment project when the country was battling the COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment with scant resources.

Justice Sanjeev Khanna, in his minority view, opined that there should have been more public consultation involved.

The majority judgment, however, had accepted the government’s view that the Central Vista project aimed at an “integrated administration block” and “synergised functioning” of Ministries at present spread across 47 buildings in the region, and in particular, Central Secretariat block.


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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 1:13:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/central-vista-sc-asks-govt-to-file-affidavit-on-proposed-change-in-land-use/article37158326.ece

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