Tuesday, December 8, 2015

BRS / VRS & Govt. Lands Sale - Death Knell of Hyderabad

HMDA Master Plan 2031

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Plan covering an area of 5965 Sq Kms., notified vide G.O. Ms No 33 dated 24-01-2013, is planned for a time period up to 2031, taking into consideration population of about 184 lakhs, with work force of 65 lakhs. Also taking into account, the present trends of developments, the Inner Ring Road, the Outer Ring Road & Radial Roads, it has proposed a radial-concentric structure of development with new urban nodes and urban centers in all directions to promote balanced development in the Hyderabad Metropolitan Region with a Peri Urban Zone all along the urban area, hierarchy of circulation network to cater to the present and future travel needs of population and activities.
Accordingly, Zoning & Development Promotion Regulations are formulated, conducive to balanced, integrated, comprehensive and sustainable development of area in HMDA, so as to provide congenial surroundings and Good Quality of Life, aspired by Urban Population.

As per Zoning Regulations, the following Land Use Zones are classified in the Master Plan:
1.Residential (R1 to R4)
5.Public, Semi Public Facilities & Utilities
6.Multiple Use
7.Recreation & Open Space & Open Space Buffer around Water Bodies
8. Water Bodies
9. Forest
10. Special Reservation ( Heritage Bldgs.& Precincts, Defence Lands, Bio-
      Conservation & Others reserved for special use)
11. Conservation ( Agriculture)
12. Traffic & Transport ( Roads, Railways , Railway Stations, Bus Stands/
       Stations, Airports and Allied Infrastructure )
Note: The Land Use under Water Bodies, Green Buffers around Water
             Bodies, Forests & Bio Conservation is designated as Protected
           and their Land Use Change is not to be permitted.

Metropolitan Planning Committee
As per the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed on 27-3-2006, seeking financial assistance under JNNURM to Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH), it was agreed to constitute Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), vide Article 243- ZE, by March 2008. And also the resolution by State Government, expressing commitment to implement 74 th Amendment Act, was to be passed within 6 months from the date of MOA & copy submitted to MOUD, GOI.

Accordingly, the Urban Areas are to function as institutions of self government in accordance with Article 243 W of the Constitution of India. And also any changes to approved Master Plans prepared by MPC are to be considered and recommended by MPC to the Govt. as per Article 243 ZE.

BRS & LRS Proposals
Any unilateral regularization of of Buildings / Layouts undertaken in violation of Zoning & Development Promotion Regulations formulated under notified HMDA Master Plan 2031, amounts to violation of Seventy-Fourth Amendment Act of 1992 and MOA signed under JNNURM.
In particular, Building Regularization Scheme (BRS) & Layout Regularization Scheme (LRS) approvals in Water Bodies, Green Buffers around Water Bodies, Forests & Bio Conservation Areas, designated as Protected and whose Land use cannot be changed, may amount to be a Criminal Offense. In this connection, the Chennai High Court order holding “TN Govt responsible for flooding &deaths, as it let Land Sharks Swallow Water Bodies” is relevant.
As per Press Reports , Telangana Govt is reported to have relaxed Rules- Minimum Setbacks & Height -for issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) for Buildings by the Fire Services Department while regularizing unauthorized buildings under BRS. This is nothing but bending backwards to help/accommodate Owners & Builders of Illegal Structures in violation of National Building Code, Fire Safety & Prevention Rules, Norms of State Disaster Response etc, which may prove to be disastrous to public safety. Where is the Accountability ?

Sale of Govt Land
As HMDA Master Plan 2031 is prepared for estimated population of 184 lakhs by 2031, there is going to be tremendous pressure on land-use and the traffic for intra urban travel. The Implementer of Master Plan will have to give importance and priority for preservation and protection of natural resources such as Water Bodies, Forests, Parks, Hillocks, Open Spaces, Heritage Bldgs, & Precincts , with out treating Urban Land as a Commodity as it is being done all these years.

Protected Areas
The sale of Land, covered under Water Bodies, Green Buffers around Water Bodies, Forests, Bio Conservation, which are designated as Protected should be treated beyond the scope of any future Land transactions as it amounts to selling Environment / Future, in violation of provisions of Articles 48-A and 51-A (g).

Conservation Area ( Agriculture )

The area covered under Agriculture in HMDA area has already come down drastically, because of rapid urban growth around Hyderabad during the last 2 decades or so. This contributed to micro-climatic changes having adverse impact on Quality of Life and shortage of Vegetables, Fruits , Flowers etc grown in the vicinity.

Traffic & Transport Area

The City which is already experiencing serious traffic bottle necks resulting in, far too many Road Accidents, serious Air Pollution etc, cannot afford to loose, any area earmarked for meeting the growing traffic & transport needs up to 2031.

Public, Semi Public Facilities & Utilities
As it is, there is acute shortage of Public Schools, Social & Welfare Centers, Group Housing Facilities, Public Utility Bldgs, Water Supply, Drainage & Sewage Systems, Other Services, Night Shelters etc. As the requirement is going to be multiplied to cater for the growing needs, any reduction of already earmarked area, is bound to have serious adverse impacts on the delivery of essential Public facilities, utilities & services.
Recreation & Open Space
The A.P. High Court in its landmark judgment on WRIT PETITIONS W.P. Nos.25835/96 and 35/97,observed "None of the respondents have been able to dispute the averment on behalf of the Petitioners and interveners that the City's Parks and other Open Spaces are hopelessly inadequate as per the standard in this behalf ……The city is already breathing less than required breath and further depletions, by acts of the state, of the lung spaces of the city will make the breathing more difficult" (Pages 51 - 52).

"Since we have found that the respondents have acted in violation of the fundamental rights of the Petitioners and others similarly situated and we have taken the view that any conversion of the parks to any other use, would violate the rights under Articles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India, we unhesitatingly accept the Petitioners' plea that respondents have to be restrained from converting the parks to any other use" (Page 59).

"Whatever little scope was available to argue that the Government of the State represent the sovereign and retained thus its eminent domain in deciding in respect of the use of a public place one way or the other is taken away by the Constitution (Seventy-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1992 and Article 243W(a) therein read with the list in the Twelfth Schedule" (Page 49).

In the light of the facts stated in the preceding paragraphs, the State Govt should not be permitted, to unilaterally change the specified Land Use and/or dispose off Govt. Lands, with the sole object of mobilizing the required funds to meet present day requirements. It amounts to treating the precious Urban Land as a Commodity and Depriving the Future Generations, just to cater for the present, without fully evaluating and assessing the long term Environmental, Social and Economic implications.

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