Friday, December 2, 2022

Qutub Minar illegal construction: Delhi HC slams civic body, police for apathy

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The Delhi High Court took note of the large-scale illegal and unauthorised constructions near Qutub Minar, a protected heritage monument in Mehrauli, and directed the South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s Zonal Deputy Commissioner to fix responsibility of officers involved in it. 

A single-judge bench of Justice Najmi Waziri said, “The construction has been carried out in such a large area-surely, this could not have escaped the attention of either the police, the ASI or the Corporation (SDMC).”

The petitioner has shown Google Earth screengrabs annexed with the petition which revealed the nature and timeline of ongoing unauthorised constructions. 

During the hearing, the SDMC counsel said that on the basis of misrepresentation of facts and fabrication of documents, permission for a building has been taken from the ASI and the Corporation.

Justice Najmi Waziri said, “This is odd because permission could not have been granted for any construction in the prohibited zone of 100 metres abutting a protected monument.”

“The construction has taken place roughly 40 metres from Qutub Minar, a world-renowned, protected monument,” he said. 

The Court has directed the Zonal Deputy Commissioner of the Corporation to also look into the matter and fix the responsibility of the officers who may be found to be in dereliction of their duties. 

The Court has also impleaded Delhi Police and Tree Officer, GNCTD as necessary parties in the matter and issued notice to them. It has directed the Director General of the ASI, the DCP South to look into the matter with respect to the role of police in this. 

On the submission of the SDMC Counsel that only one full-grown tree has been cut, the Court said the photographs shown would reveal that a quite number of trees have been felled. 

Following which Justice Najmi Waziri has directed Tree Officer, GNCTD to visit the site and look into the matter and ascertain the position apropos the trees that may have been felled or damaged. “Remedial measures as may be directed by the Tree Officer shall be initiated,” said the Court. 

The Court was informed that the construction at the site has been stopped. The Court has further directed Corporation, ASI, Delhi Police and Tree Officer to file their affidavits, along with photographs and relevant documents within four weeks. 

The Court was hearing the petition filed by Rishi Sehdev through Advocates Ashish Chauhan, Vikram Singh Baid, Kushagra Bansal of A. K. Associates who has alleged large-scale violations of building bye-laws and ongoing illegal and unauthorised construction near the Qutub Minar. The petitioner has annexed Google Pictures which revealed the nature and timeline of the ongoing illegal, unauthorised and large-scale construction near the protected monument site. 

The petitioner has sought directions for demolition of illegal and unauthorized construction activity undertook at property bearing no. H-5/1 to H-5/20, Kalka Das Marg, Mehrauli, Delhi, famously known as Qutub Colonnade and its adjoining land, as clearly marked in the Map, in contravention to the law, procedure and guidelines governing protection of sites under the Archaeological Survey of India.

“The said illegal conduct of the Respondents in allowing/overlooking the construction activity being undertaken in such close vicinity of the Qutub Minar has caused grave harm to the sanctity and aesthetics of historical sites which are already in dire need to conservation from the over burdened and polluted NCR of Delhi,” stated in the petition. 


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