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Change of land use: Delhi HC seeks relevant statutory provisions from MCD

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to produce details of relevant statutory provisions allowing its competent authority to change of land use while hearing a plea filed by lawyer and activist Amit Sahni, challenging the upcoming commercial shops, multi-level car parking facility by demolishing a Primary school.
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula, in an order on August 14, granted time to MCD to file a short affidavit to that extent within a period of four weeks explaining the source of power and the process followed for allowing the change.
The court directed the MCD 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.
The earlier affidavit filed by MCD revealed that the land use at the site of the construction of the multi-level car parking has been changed from ‘Part Residential and Part Public Semi-Public (Police Station)’ to ‘Multilevel Car Parking’ by the Standing Committee of MCD.
The court, while granting more time to the MCD to produce further detail, set the next hearing on the matter on September 18.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court had issued notice on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the construction, operation and maintenance of upcoming commercial shops, retail space and food court and multi-level car parking facility by demolishing/razing the Primary school ( in existence since 1927) in Bank Street, Karol Bagh.
Meanwhile, the predecessor bench stated, "We will definitely examine the issue and seek the response of North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), Delhi Government, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) and OMTECH Construction and Infrastructure Ltd.
Appearing for Delhi government, advocate Santosh Kumar Tripathi opposed the decision of conversion of 'land use' and construction on school land. He submitted, "Decongestion can't take place at the cost of education of children. If the corporation concerned is unable to run this school, we (Delhi government) is willing to do it."
Advocate Amit Sahni, social activist and lawyer, submitted that the MCD had, in October 2021, proposed to construct a multi-level parking facility by demolishing the municipal school building. The land of the school, spanning 4200 square metres, was sold to OMTECH for Rs 181 crores under the garb of directions issued by the Delhi High Court for the construction of the multi-level parking facility.
The petition has stated that in 2019, the municipal corporation stopped using the school building by shifting the students to another school in Shiv Nagar, measuring only 1420 sq metres, which is much smaller in size than the previous one and does not have infrastructure like a playground and green area, among others.
The plea stated that the respondent, OMTECH, is advertising the project as a commercial building with a food court, shops and offices. According to the advertisement, the parking will be underground and would accommodate 500 vehicles only. However, the same would be inadequate with regard to the parking needs in the area.
Advocate Amit Sahni further said the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi government are duty-bound to provide free and compulsory education to children below the age of 14 and the DCPCR is a statutory watchdog for the protection of Child Rights.
It stated that the MCD has sold the said school land in violation and directions passed by the high court and the Supreme Court and the Delhi government and DCPCR were not taking any action. This would adversely affect the constitutional rights of the deprived sections of society. (ANI)

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