Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Supreme Court issues notice on plea seeking stay on flyover construction over residential road in Dwarka

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The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a petition seeking directions to stay construction of a flyover over a residential road (DDA Road No 226) in Sectors 22 and 23 in Dwarka, Delhi.

A bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice M. R. Shah issued notice on a plea filed by ‘Rao CGHS Ltd (New Millenium CGHS) & Ors,’ challenging the order of the Delhi High Court, which had refused to grant relief on an application, seeking directions to the National Highway Authority of India to place on record all mandatory provisions and approvals obtained by it, enabling it to carry out construction on DDA Road no 226, Dwarka.

The plea further sought a direction to restrain the NHAI from carrying out any construction, till it produces the statutory approvals. 

Counsel of the petitioner, Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan, today submitted before the apex court that the High Court, while declining to grant interim relief for construction of Highway project in Dwarka, has plainly ignored two notifications:

By one notification, the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways of the Union government had issued a notification of new highway. As a consequence, another notification stands attracted with regards to the entry of schedule, which inter alia speaks of new National Highways. The feasibility report also clearly indicates that the project in question was a green Field project. In the earlier order of High Court, there was a specific direction that no removal of trees shall take place. Though the permission lapsed, the HC declined to grant interim relief.

Following the submissions, the Court issued notice. 

“Since an application for interim relief is made, we are of the view that advance notice be sent to respondent. List it for this Friday,” noted the Court in its order.

The petitioners have approached the High Court against the said construction. On December 18, 2020, the High Court had issued notice to NHAI and the Delhi Government and sought their responses. The plea also alleged that NHAI has not applied for approval to cut/remove trees from road no 226, Sector 22 and 23 Dwarka, where the construction was being carried out by it and the respondent no 7 ‘J Kumar Infra Projects Limited’.

The Delhi High Court had on December 18, 2020, directed the NHAI and the J Kumar Infra Projects Limited, not to remove/cut trees in the area in question without prior approval from the competent authority under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994. 

On July 30, 2021, the High Court had also rejected the application filed by the petitioner ‘Rao CGHS Ltd (New Millenium CGHS) & Ors’ with regards to the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, alleging that the work sought to be undertaken by the NHAI would also require environmental Clearance as the proposed highway is a new National Highway. The High Court noted, “Needless to say, it will be open for the respondent no 1 (NHAI) to proceed with the construction by following the directions already issued by this Court in its earlier orders.”

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The petition before the Delhi High Court was filed against the said construction, stating its detrimental to the rights of the petitioners herein, which are co-operative group housing societies (CGHS) and the residents of Sector 22 & 23 of Dwarka. Around 50 residential apartment societies and 12 schools adjoin the said DDA Road no 226.

“The authorities concerned have turned a blind eye and it would lead to an exponential increase in traffic, air & noise pollution and road safety issues for local residents, while also creating traffic bottlenecks,” the plea added. 

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