Friday, November 25, 2005

DCR 58 - Part V - The End

“This is the end, my only friend” The Doors.

Its tough (and unfair?) to shrink a 40-page verdict in a few paras, yet here goes....

Brave new world: Quoting from Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, the verdict highlights the need for open spaces in Bombay, especially for future generations.

Kiss for the dying: DCR58 was made to rehabilitate textile mills. If the mill-owner wants to close the mill he has to share the land with BMC and MHADA for social objectives. The amended DCR58 even makes this share quite beneficial to the owners (FSI increased from 0.5 to 1.33).

How green is my valley: The Mill-owners claim that “private greens” addresses open spaces for public, cannot be upheld since the Supreme Court has held that "Public Greens" are more important.

Choking up: “No one disputes the fact that the mill areas are already congested. If further construction activity is permitted, then basic amenities, which are already minimal, would disappear altogether”.

Leave from duty: The State Govt, BMC and MPCB) had abdicated their legal obligations and duties in implementing the environmental notification.

Contrarians move: Since NTC’s modified scheme for the sale of its 5 mills were not approved by BIFR, they were contrary to the Supreme Court order.

Finally, for the record – here is the conclusion produced ad verbatim.

(a) In amended DCR58 (1)(b) “open lands” would include lands after demolition of structures.

(b) Clarification dated 28th March, 2003 is clearly violative of Section 37 of MRTP Act and Article 21of the Constitution of India.

(c) The issue whether the amended DCR 58 is contrary to Section 37 of MRTP Act or Article 21 of the Constitution of India, is kept open.

(d) All the constructions carried out by various Developers are clearly in violation of EIA Notification as amended on 7th July, 2004, as admittedly none of them have obtained clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forests.

(e) All sales of Mill lands carried out by NTC are clearly contrary to the Supreme Court orders dated11th May, 2005 and 27th September, 2002 and contrary to the sanctioned BIFR schemes.

Rule is accordingly made absolute with costs.

Epilogue: So now what? The Supreme Court can overturn the verdict and pave the way for constructions to begin all over again. The impact? A no-brainer, it will kill an already dying city. You don’t need to read a 368-page High Court verdict to figure that out. Or the Supreme Court can uphold the verdict. The impact? Party-time for the BMC and MHADA – both notorious for their carelessness and corruption. And what of the Bombayite? Well, for one, does he care? Does he have time to take any interest in his own city? As long as his home is nice and large and clean, why should the city matter? His house is his, but not the city.