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Don't sanction constructions with negative environment impact: SC

Supreme Court

New Delhi (The Hawk): The Supreme Court, which on Tuesday ordered razing of twin towers built by Supertech in Noida, observed, in several decisions, it has come across rampant increase in unauthorised constructions across urban areas, particularly in metropolitan cities where soaring values of land place a premium on dubious dealings.

Citing rampant unauthorised construction across urban spaces, a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah said: "State of affairs has often come to pass in no small a measure because of the collusion between developers and planning authorities."

The bench said the regulatory framework encompasses all stages of construction, including allocation of land, sanctioning of the plan for construction, regulation of the structural integrity of the structures under construction, obtaining clearances from different departments (fire, garden, sewage, etc), and the issuance of occupation and completion certificates.

In the 140-page judgment, the bench said while the availability of housing stock, especially in metropolitan cities, is necessary to accommodate the constant influx of people, it has to be balanced with two crucial considerations - the protection of the environment, and the well-being and safety of those who occupy these constructions.

"The regulation of the entire process is intended to ensure that constructions which will have a severe negative environmental impact are not sanctioned," said Justice Chandrachud, who authored the judgment on behalf of the bench.

The bench said when these regulations are brazenly violated by developers, more often than not with the connivance of regulatory authorities, it strikes at the very core of urban planning. "Thereby directly resulting in an increased harm to the environment and a dilution of safety standards. Hence, illegal construction has to be dealt with strictly to ensure compliance with the rule of law," said the bench.

The bench added unfortunately, the diverse and unseen group of flat buyers suffers the impact of the unholy nexus between builders and planners. "Their quality of life is affected the most. Yet, confronted with the economic might of developers and the might of legal authority wielded by planning bodies, the few who raise their voices have to pursue a long and expensive battle for rights with little certainty of outcomes," it said.

The top court ordered demolition of twin towers by Supertech in Noida, having close to 1000 flats, within three months. It also directed the real estate firm to refund money to all those homebuyers, who had booked flats in the twin towers, with 12 per cent interest. The top court verdict came on appeals by Supertech and the NOIDA, challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict on April 11, 2014, for demolishing two towers, Apex and Ceyane, constructed as part of Supertech's Emerald Court project.