Demolish Hampi's Virupapura Gaddi illegal structure: SC

Demolish illegal structures at Hampi's Virupapura Gaddi: SC

A view of Virupapura Gaddi in Hampi, Ballari district.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the state government to carry out within one-month demolition of illegal restaurants, hotels and guest houses constructed at Virupapura Gaddi, an oval islet formed by the Tungabhadra river on the west of the Hampi World Heritage site.

The top court said that the threat to historical monuments of the Vijayanagara empire has continued and a Unesco meeting in 2009 had cited rampant illegal constructions there.

A bench of Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and R Subhash Reddy said since Virupapura Gaddi had been declared as protected area by a notification issued on October 22, 1988, the land could not have been used other than for the cultivation purpose.

“Virupapura Gaddi is a river island, it is evident that no development is permissible there even as per the Master Plan 2021 prepared under the Hampi Act,” the court said.

The top court dismissed a batch of appeals filed by Sakkubai and others against the Karnataka HC’s judgement of April 27, 2015, which held that the area fell under the ‘core zone’ of the heritage area and allowed the authorities to demolish illegal structures.

The appellants had constructed huts and buildings on their lands for the commercial purpose of running hotels, restaurants, and guest houses.

“Clearly, these constructions were in violation of Section 20(1) of the Mysore Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961,” the court said.

It also said the permissions or licences issued by the local panchayat were without any authority and could not but be said to be illegal.

The court held as “lawful” the orders issued for demolition saying the authorities cannot turn a blind eye to the illegality being perpetrated by them.

The court also rejected a claim by the petitioners that notifications for demolition under the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority Act, 2002, can only be of prospective nature.

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