Supreme Court adjourns hearing on Shimla Development Plan till Aug 11
Shimla, July 28
On Friday, the Supreme Court decided to adjourn the hearing on the Shimla Development Plan (SDP) after granting the respondent two weeks to file a reply. The court was addressing the Special Leave Petition between the state of Himachal Pradesh and Yogendra Mohan Sengupta.
Representing the state of Himachal Pradesh, Advocate General Anup Rattan urged the court to allow the implementation of the SDP, stating that the plan had been published in accordance with the apex court’s previous directions. He emphasized that numerous applications from residents were pending before the state for a long time, seeking permission for construction under the provisions of the TCP Act, and the state needed to process these applications.
During the hearing, the bench consisting of Justice BR Gavai and Justice JB Pardiwala raised concerns about parking issues in and around Shimla town. According to paper reports, cars were being left on the roads due to insufficient parking provisions for commercial and residential purposes.
Anup Rattan refuted these reports, claiming that they were misleading and not based on facts. He assured the court that the state could address the parking issue by removing cars parked on the roads and directing residents to use their designated parking floors adjacent to the roads. He pointed out that the town faced challenges accommodating over 70,000 vehicles per day without adequate parking provisions.
The counsel for the respondents requested to participate online, but the court ruled against online appearances for all respondents, except for respondent Sanjay Parik, who had a valid reason for not appearing in the open court.
Sanjay Parik, representing respondent Yogendra Mohan Sen Gupta, expressed concerns that green areas were being converted into residential units under the pretext of the SDP, leading to environmental degradation. He contended that the state’s approval to cut the hills under the plan should not be allowed.
The Advocate General of Himachal Pradesh dismissed these objections, clarifying that only two-and-a-half-story buildings were permitted in the core area of Shimla town. He defended the construction in green areas, stating that many people had been waiting for 40 years after purchasing plots in the town.
The AG explained that the SDP was formulated based on observations made by the green tribunal on the respondent’s applications. He also mentioned that the respondents’ counsel had not thoroughly reviewed the draft of the SDP, which proposed allowing three-and-a-half-story buildings outside the core area.
Urging the court to authorize the implementation of the SDP, the counsel for the state of Himachal Pradesh argued that numerous pending applications required the development plan for processing.
Sanjay Parik, representing respondent Yogender Mohan Sen Gupta, informed the court that the state had submitted the draft of the SDP only last week and requested additional time to prepare a reply. The court fixed the next hearing for August 11, 2023, ordering the state not to implement the plan until then.
It is pertinent to mention that the State government had challenged the National Green Tribunal’s judgment from November 2017, which had restrained new construction based on the Interim Development Plan in Shimla planning area. The State also contested the NGT’s order declaring the new Shimla Development Plan as illegal, against the November 2017 order.
During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had deferred the proceedings to allow the state of Himachal to present the draft of the new development plan in the court.
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