The construction of a 39-storey private building in an educational area such as North Campus is completely illegal. It is also a big threat to the security and integrity of Delhi University. Apart from this, it also creates major environmental concerns.
In 2001, the Delhi government had acquired three acres of land from the Ministry of Defence for the construction of the Delhi University metro station. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had bought the land from the Defence Ministry for ₹42.4 crore, which was for the public and was even acquired through public money. It was subsequently sold to a private builder for ₹218 crores. However, now, the cost of the land may be more than a thousand crore.
How can Delhi Metro Rail Cooperation (DMRC) purposely sell public land to a private builder? Especially when the land comes under the purview of Delhi University’s academic area. The incident raises questions on DMRC’s credibility.
The credibility of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) is already under public scrutiny post the felling of trees in Aarey for the construction of a car shed. It shows that the MMRC is not at all concerned about environmental issues. If a 39-storey private building is built, then the young students and environmentalists will question DMRC’s credibility as well. Therefore, the DMRC should intervene, and the land must be returned to the appropriate authority.
In 2012, the university moved to the High Court but lost the case before a single-judge bench in 2015. The area does not fall under the North Campus, HC had said. DU then moved against the order in HC itself after three years. While the Letter Patents Appeal (LPA) need to be filed within 30 days after a single bench order, the university was filling it after three years. A two-judge bench dismissed this petition, questioning the delay on DU’s part to file an appeal. DU had claimed it didn’t have a vice-chancellor, delaying the executive council’s meeting. But the question here is, why did the university authority file the LPA after three years? This shows how the University of Delhi authority acts on concerned issues.
I wrote a letter to MHRD, CMO, Delhi, and PMO on October 10, 2018, but only the CMO replied, expressing their concern while the other offices are still silent. This place is near national heritage like Gwyer Hall, Vice-Chancellor office, and the Gandhi Bhawan. This place is also under the public educational hub. The Vice Chancellor’s house is attached to 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 general security of this area.
It also violates the three points of Clause 11 of the Delhi Master Plan 2021. Clause 11 of the master plan stated that restrictions on tall buildings would be necessary for important areas like Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone, Civil lines and North Delhi campus. In the case of urban extension, areas for specific urban design projects and tall buildings should be identified. The design must also reflect respect to pedestrians and differently-abled persons. The issue of safety of differently-abled persons will be definitely under threat after the construction of the 39-storey private building.
The longest demand of the North campus to be a close campus won’t be possible if this building is built. The idea of a close campus is also elaborated in the Delhi Master plan 2021. This project falls in the silence zone as it is stationed within a 100-metre 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 bring to the level of air and noise pollution was blatantly ignored by SEIAA. Even the waste disposal considerations were not taken into account in any manner.
In the present situation, the students cannot protest within the 100-meter radius of the Administrative Block. The irony is that the students cannot protest within the 100-metre radius, but a 39-storey private building can be built there!
In a legal development, the Department of Forest has permitted the Young Builders Pvt. Ltd. to remove 156 trees at the construction site. The NGT has taken cognizance of the matter and issued a letter to the North Delhi Municipal corporation. Now, the matter is pending in the Supreme Court through a special leave petition. But the company started the construction two months ago as there is no legal prohibition to stop the construction.
The students of Delhi University are scared. They have been raising their voice protesting against these developments, but the matter is worth more than thousands of crores and serves the interest of a major corporation and the administration.
So instead of delaying the issue, the intervention of Prime minister office is necessary. The Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University and many other authorities have already written to the PMO, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.
We, the students of Delhi University, have also proposed that instead of a 39-storey private building, a hostel should be built for the student belonging to the marginalized class. I think that the intervention of the Prime Minister Office is also necessary because the Prime Minister’s university building is under threat.