Supreme Court laments unplanned growth and its effects on the Environment
Shanti Sports Club & another Vs Union of India
Before concluding, we consider it necessary to enter a caveat. In all developed countries, great emphasis has been laid on the planned development of cities and urban areas. The object of planned development has been achieved by rigorous enforcement of master plans prepared after careful study of complex issues, scientific research and rationalisation of laws.
The people of those countries have greatly contributed to the concept of planned development of cities by strictly adhering to the planning laws, the master plan etc. They respect the laws enacted by the legislature for regulating planned development of the cities and seldom there is a complaint of violation of master plan etc. in the construction of buildings, residential, institutional or commercial.
In contrast, scenario in the developing countries like ours is substantially different. Though, the competent legislatures have, from time to time, enacted laws for ensuring planned development of the cities and urban areas, enforcement thereof has been extremely poor and the people have violated the master plans, zoning plans and building regulations and bye-laws with impunity. In last four decades, almost all cities, big or small, have seen unplanned growth. In the 21st century, the menace of illegal and unauthorized constructions and encroachments has acquired monstrous proportions and everyone has been paying heavy price for the same. Economically affluent people and those having support of the political and executive apparatus of the State have constructed buildings, commercial complexes, multiplexes, malls etc. in blatant violation of the municipal and town planning laws, master plans, zonal development plans and even the sanctioned building plans.
In most of the cases of illegal or unauthorized constructions, the officers of the municipal and other regulatory bodies turn blind eye either due to the influence of higher functionaries of the State or other extraneous reasons. Those who construct buildings in violation of the relevant statutory provisions, master plan etc. and those who directly or indirectly abet such violations are totally unmindful of the grave consequences of their actions and/or omissions on the present as well as future generations of the country which will be forced to live in unplanned cities and urban areas. The people belonging to this class do not realize that the constructions made in violation of the relevant laws, master plan or zonal development plan or sanctioned building plan or the building is used for a purpose other than the one specified in the relevant statute or the master plan etc., such constructions put unbearable burden on the public facilities/amenities like water, electricity, sewerage etc. apart from creating chaos on the roads.
The pollution caused due to traffic congestion affects the health of the road users. The pedestrians and people belonging to weaker sections of the society, who cannot afford the luxury of air-conditioned cars, are the worst victims of pollution. They suffer from skin diseases of different types, asthma, allergies and even more dreaded diseases like cancer.
It can only be a matter of imagination how much the government has to spend on the treatment of such persons and also for controlling pollution and adverse impact on the environment due to traffic congestion on the roads and chaotic conditions created due to illegal and unauthorized constructions. This Court has, from time to time, taken cognizance of buildings constructed in violation of municipal and other laws and emphasized that no compromise should be made with the town planning scheme and no relief should be given to the violator of the town planning scheme etc. on the ground that he has spent substantial amount on construction of the buildings etc. -
K. Ramdas Shenoy v. Chief Officers, Town Municipal Council, Udipi 1974 (2) SCC 506, Dr. G.N. Khajuria v. Delhi Development Authority
1995 (5) SCC 762, M.I. Builders Pvt. Ltd. v. Radhey Shyam Sahu 1999 (6) SCC 464, Friends Colony Development Committee v. State of Orissa
2004 (8) SCC 733, M.C. Mehta v. Union of India 2006 (3) SCC 399 and S.N. Chandrasekhar v. State of Karnataka 2006 (3) SCC 208.
Unfortunately, despite repeated judgments by the this Court and High Courts, the builders and other affluent people engaged in the construction activities, who have, over the years shown scant respect for regulatory mechanism envisaged in the municipal and other similar laws, as also the master plans, zonal development plans, sanctioned plans etc., have received encouragement and support from the State apparatus. As and when the courts have passed orders or the officers of local and other bodies have taken action for ensuring rigorous compliance of laws relating to planned development of the cities and urban areas and issued directions for demolition of the illegal/unauthorized constructions, those in power have come forward to protect the wrong doers either by issuing administrative orders or enacting laws for regularization of illegal and unauthorized constructions in the name of compassion and hardship. Such actions have done irreparable harm to the concept of planned development of the cities and urban areas. It is high time that the executive and political apparatus of the State take serious view of the menace of illegal and unauthorized constructions and stop their support to the lobbies of affluent class of builders and others, else even the rural areas of the country will soon witness similar chaotic conditions.