The following is an informative, enriched with facts, opinion piece on the construction of the high rise building in the University of Delhi’s North Campus and how it stands as a matter of serious concern.
The construction of 39-storey private high-rise building in an educational area such as the North Campus of the University of Delhi is completely illegal and is also a big threat to the security and integrity of the Delhi University. This also stands as a major environmental concern.
In 2001, the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi had acquired the 3 acre land of the Ministry of Defence for the construction of the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had bought the land from the Defence Ministry for INR 42.4 crore which was for public and was even acquired on public money which was subsequently sold to a private builder for INR 218 Crores. However, now the cost of land may be more than a thousand crores .
A question to address is how can the DMRC purposely sell the public land to a private builder when the land is of high concern and comes under the purview of the University’s academic area? This event raises the question on credibility of DMRC .
The credibility of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation(MMRCL) on the falling and transplantation of 2,646 trees in Aarey for the Metro 3 car shed project is already in public discourse and questions have been raised that the MMRCL is not concerned about environmental issues. If a 39-storey private building will be built then the DMRC’s credibility will be questioned by the young students and environmentalists. Therefore DMRC should intervene and the land should be returned to the appropriate authority.
However, the University had moved to High Court in 2012 but lost the case before a single-judge bench in 2015. The area does not fall under North Campus, HC had said. DU then moved against the order in HC itself after a period of three years whereas letter patents appeal (LPA) needs to be filed within 90 days after the single bench order.The two-judge bench dismissed the petition, questioning the delay on DU’s part to file an appeal. DU had claimed it didn’t have a Vice-Chancellor, thereby delaying the executive council’s meeting. The questions raised here is also as to why the University authorities filed the letter patents appeal (LPA) after a duration of 3 years? This is indicative of how the authorities of the University work on the issues of concern.
However, I personally wrote a letter to M.H.R.D ,C.M.O,Delhi and PMO on 10th October 2018 but in the reply of C.M.O, Delhi only apprised concern other offices are still silent .
This place is near the places of national heritage like Gwyer Hall ,the Vice Chancellor’s office and the Gandhi Bhawan. This place is also a public educational hub. The Vice Chancellor’s house is attached with the disputed land. There are six girls hostels near this building. The DRDO office and the Lieutenant Governor’s office are also nearby. This area is an educational area and a high-security zone. The construction of such a large private building can pose a serious threat to the privacy of the girls living in the Delhi University hostels and also to the security of this area. It also violates the three points of Clause 11 of the Delhi Master Plan 2021.
The clause 11 of the master plan stated that restrictions on tall buildings would be necessary in important areas like Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone, Civil lines and North Campus. In case of urban extension, areas for specific Urban Design projects and tall buildings should be identified.
The design must also reflect upon the needs of the pedestrians and differently-abled persons but it seems that the safety issues of differently-abled persons will be definitely under the threat after the construction of the 39-storey private building .
The long demand of North Campus to be an infrastructural close campus will be never possible if the building gets built. The idea of close campus is also elaborated in Delhi Master plan 2021.
Project falls in the silence zone as it is stationed within 100 metres distance from the University of Delhi, an educational institution and Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, a super speciality hospital for pulmonary diseases.
While granting the impugned environment clearance for the construction of the tallest building in Delhi under the proposed project, the impact that its habitation will be reflected in the levels of air and noise pollution which were blatantly ignored by State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) in as much as the waste disposal considerations were also not taken into account in any manner.
Ironically, in the present situation, the students cannot protest within 100 meters radius of the Administrative Block.The students cannot protest under the 100 metres radius but 39 storey private building can be built.
However, in the legal development, the Department of Forests issued permission to Young Builders Pvt. Ltd. to remove 156 trees at the construction site. The National Green Tribunal (N.G.T.) took cognizance an issued the letter North Delhi Municipal Corporation with other authority. Now the matter is in the hands of the Supreme Court through the special leave petition. But the company has already started the construction with already being two months into it now.There is no legal prohibition to stop the construction.
The students of Delhi University are under fear. They have been raising their voice through the protests but the issue is one which is a ballgame of a thousand crores, major corporates and administrative interests.
Hence instead of delaying the issue, the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office is necessary. The Vice Chancellor of University of Delhi and many other authorities have already written a the letter to P.M.O, the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.
We, the student of the University of Delhi already proposed that instead of a 39 storey private building, a hostel should constructed students coming from the marginalised class in the University.
I believe that the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office is necessary because it is the Prime Minister’s alma mater under threat.
(Raja Choudhary is student of Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. He has been the former presidential candidate of the Delhi University’s Students Union and is also the author of the novel ‘Ayodhya’.)