Court refuses to interfere in Ahmedabad demolition drive

Thursday, November 18, 2010

GANDHINAGAR - The Gujarat High Court Thursday refused to interfere in a sealing and demolition drive by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation against illegal constructions but offered relief for some buildings that faced action.

The high court bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi came down heavily on officials of the state government and the civic agency for not complying with its earlier order and sought to know why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them.

The drive was launched on the court’s order in a public interest litigation (PIL), which alleged that most of the complexes violated the fire-safety, parking and user norms.

The court Thursday allowed the opening of law firms, lawyers’ offices, banks, post offices and government institutions sealed by the civic agency during action against unauthorised constructions in the C.G. Road area of Ahmedabad.

The state government and the civic agency have identified 165 commercial complexes that were violating these norms.

Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said that an action plan had been made and it was being implemented. Counsel for the civic agency also submitted an action taken report to the court.

The chief justice sought to know from an association of shopowners from the area as to what it wished to propose as corrective measures if it did not want demolition of the buildings.

The chief justice said that violation of parking norms in the area was completely unacceptable and intolerable.

The court sought to know from the government authorities about violation of such norms on other roads of the city and what actions they proposed to take.

“Can we see from Monday that any car parked illegally on roads and streets has been towed and taken away?” the court said.

The court also sought to know from the shopowners as to why they should be allowed running their businesses in a residential zone where commercial activities were not allowed.

The court said they can approach the government but it will not direct the state to regularise or convert the land use of the residential zone.

“The shops and offices have been running illegally for more than a decade and cannot be allowed by this court to continue. You may approach the government,” the bench said.

“If they change the act and do it, then it’s a different thing but as of now no act is superseding the high court’s order,” the chief justice said.

The matter is now slated to come up Nov 23.

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