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East Kidwai Nagar revamp gets court rap over hasty nod

East Kidwai Nagar revamp gets court rap over hasty nod

Justice Vibhu Bakhru said it does not want to examine the project but wants a satisfactory reply from UTTIPEC on three key issues: parking, traffic management plan and Master Plan of Delhi-2021 (MPD-2021) used while planning the project.

The Delhi High Court Thursday pulled up the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) for not conducting any empirical study to manage the traffic in and around the East Kidwai Nagar redevelopment project and giving clearance to the project “without any application of mind”.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru said it does not want to examine the project but wants a satisfactory reply from UTTIPEC on three key issues: parking, traffic management plan and Master Plan of Delhi-2021 (MPD-2021) used while planning the  project. He also rapped the agency for giving a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the redevelopment project without any detailed study.

“What norms did you apply? You have to tell us. There is no dispute that you have got the permission. But tell us one empirical study that you have conducted based on which the clearance has been given,” Justice Bakhru said.

Coming down heavily on UTTIPEC, the court said, “I would be satisfied if someone shows some study on the basis of which the traffic was being considered. What assessment have you done? Tell us how many vehicles have been added to the Ring Road? What are the figures of the vehicles during the rush hours? Such kind of retrofitting engineering would not work.

Lamenting on the “archaic norms” that the UTTIPEC, the apex body to clear all road infrastructure projects in the city, had followed before giving a clearance to the project, the judge remarked, “Delhi is having a problem because some years ago some planning did not go well. After 20 years, we do not want such a situation.”

Appearing for NBCC, ASG Pinky Anand said norms were followed by the UTTIPEC before giving an NOC for traffic management. To this, the court asked, “Which are the norms that have been followed? You can’t go on the basis of archaic norms that are based on an old study.”

“The norms are based on projections and those are not working. Even the report by IIT Prof Geetam Tiwari had stated that no empirical study has been conducted to assess the traffic and vehicular congestion due no parking for the visitors,” he said.

The court sought to know about the norms that have been applied. It said, “When you have a project this large, you should have seen that your traffic has been backed up.”

The court was hearing a petition filed by senior advocate Aman Lekhi and advocate Manali Singhal in 2014 alleging that the plan for the East Kidwai Nagar project, meant to provide accommodations to government officials, was done without considering the environmental implications, road space, or rights of residents.

On Thursday, advocate Manali Singhal informed the court that the entire project is a “violation of the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 (MPD)”. She said that the MPD allowed only small commercial shops for the sustenance of the people living in the residential blocks. She also said that even though there is space provided for parking, there is no space for visitors’ parking.

However, countering the submissions, ASG Anand told the court the project was based on several office memorandums by the Ministry of Urban Development (now housing and urban affairs ministry), which gave permission to redevelop the colonies.

Replying to the court, the ASG said that IIT professor Tiwari had given the report considering the fact Transit Oriented Development norms had been applied in the project even though they were not notified by the housing and urban affairs ministry.

However, the court sought that the authorities address the issues of parking, traffic and MPD fixing May 15 as the next date of hearing.