NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday made an appeal to the legislature, the executive and the policy makers at the Centre as well as at the state levels to make necessary provisions for carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment studies before permitting urban development.
"It is high time that the Legislature, the Executive and the Policy Makers at the Centre as well as at the State levels take note of the damage to the environment on account of haphazard developments and take a call to take necessary measures to ensure that the development does not damage the environment. It is necessary that a proper balance is struck between sustainable development and environmental protection," a bench of Justices B R Gavai and B V Nagarathna said.
In a case of Resident's Welfare Association and another Versus the Union Territory of Chandigarh and others, the court made the appeal while declaring that fragmentation, division, bifurcation, and apartmentalisation of a residential unit in Phase I of Chandigarh was prohibited under the rules.
In its 131-page judgment, the court pointed out the authorities of the Chandigarh administration are blindly sanctioning building plans, when from the building plans itself it is apparent that the same are in effect converting one dwelling unit into three apartments.
“Such a haphazard growth may adversely affect the heritage status of Phase¬I of Chandigarh which is sought to be inscribed as a UNESCO’s heritage city. It is further to be noted that though the Chandigarh Administration is permitting one dwelling unit to be converted into three apartments, its adverse effect on traffic has not been addressed," Justice Gavai wrote on behalf of the bench.
The bench noted that with the increase in number of dwelling units, a corresponding increase in the vehicles is bound to be there. However, without considering the said aspect, one dwelling unit is permitted to be converted into three apartments, it added.
The bench directed the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee to consider the issue of redensification in Phase-I of the city of Chandigarh.
For protecting the heritage status of Corbusian Chandigarh, the court said it is necessary for it to exercise powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to issue certain directions:
** The Heritage Committee is directed to consider the issue of redensification in Phase¬I of the city of Chandigarh;
** Needless to state that the Heritage Committee would take into consideration its own recommendations that the northern sectors of Chandigarh “(Corbusian Chandigarh)” should be preserved in their present form.
** The Heritage Committee shall also take into consideration the impact of such redensification on the parking/traffic issues.
** After the Heritage Committee considers the issues, the Chandigarh Administration would consider amending the CMP-¬2031 and the 2017 Rules insofar as they are applicable to Phase¬ I in accordance with the recommendations of the Heritage Committee.
** Such amendments shall be placed before the Central Government, which shall take a decision with regard to approval of such amendments keeping in view the requirement of maintaining the heritage status of Le Corbusier zone.
** Till a final decision is taken by the Central Government:
a. the Chandigarh Administration shall not sanction any plan of a building which ex-facie appears to be a modus operandi to convert a single dwelling unit into three different apartments occupied by three strangers; and
b. No Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or agreement or settlement amongst co¬owners of a residential unit shall be registered nor shall it be enforceable in law for the purpose of bifurcation or division of a single residential unit into floor¬wise apartments.
** We further direct that hereinafter, the Central Government and Chandigarh Administration will freeze FAR and shall not increase it any further;
** That the number of floors in Phase¬ I shall be restricted to three with a uniform maximum height as deemed appropriate by the Heritage Committee keeping in view the requirement to maintain the heritage status of Phase¬ I; and
** That the Chandigarh Administration shall not resort to formulate rules or bye¬laws without prior consultation of the Heritage Committee and prior approval of the Central Government.