No trade in residential zones: HC

No trade in residential zones: HC

No trade in residential zones: HC

In an interim order that can have far-reaching implications, the High Court on Wednesday ruled that no commercial activities will commence in the future in residential zones marked in the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) of 1995.

Hearing a batch of petitions by various residents associations and B Krishna Bhat, challenging the merits of the master plan 2015, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna directed the government, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) to restrain from granting permission for commercial activities and to accept the Dr A Ravindra Committee recommendations as far as the residential zoning is considered.

The 17 petitioners, including the Citizen Action Forum, Sadashivanagar Residents Welfare Association and other private individuals had, in 2008, contended that BDA’s formulation of the Revised Master Plan 2015 and the approval by the State government were ‘illegal’ and without jurisdiction apart from being arbitrary, mala fide, unconstitutional and ultra vires.

They claimed that the approval of BMRDA was not obtained for the said plan and as such the plan was illegal and unsustainable. Their main contention was with regard to the several new categories of zones, such as ‘mixed zones’, ‘mutation corridors’ and ‘transformation zones,’ all of which they claimed to be ultra vires to the Act. Further, it was contended that the government had also sidelined a comprehensive report by an officially-constituted review committee of experts, headed by PSS Thomas, IAS (retd), Advisor, Planning Commission, which was appointed to interact with the public and give its recommendations on the formulation of CDP 2015.

While the committee had several reservations about the Draft Master Plan submitted by BDA - with disagreement over the proposed zonal regulations, introduction of mixed residential areas under the guise of development of commercial space, etc - the government, it is claimed in the petition decided to ignore them and approve the CDP 2015 with the mixed zonal regulations.

During the course of the hearing over the past four years, the petitioners filed an Interlocutory Application, asking the HC to admit the Dr A Ravindra Committee report in 2009, which spoke extensively on the need for zonal regulations. Ironically, the Committee was set up by the State Government itself to specifically examine the commercial operations in residential areas.

With no refutable charges being filed for the State Government, the High Court on Wednesday directed BDA to restrain from granting permission for commercial activities in any residential area. Observing that the State Government had failed to provide any conclusive response to the petition, the Chief Justice asked the Counsel of the State: “Who is running the government, is it the builders lobby”.