Tue, 25 Jan 2022

New Delhi [India], December 6 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday refused urgent listing of an application seeking direction to vacate the ban on construction activities of residential houses, apartments, small units and other non-commercial units in the national capital region.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Developers and Builders Forum, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.

Singh said, "We never asked for a ban on construction. This should be vacated. The air quality index (AQI) is low today. Thousands of crores are being lost everyday."To this, the CJI told Singh that let the government take a call on the issue. Singh replied that this ban was imposed by the Court not the government.

"This is not fair, the matter will come up on Friday," the Bench said while refusing to entertain the request of early hearing and posted the matter for hearing on Friday when the air pollution matter will be taken up.

The application filed by Developers and Builders Forum in the air pollution case said that if the Central Vista projects, which causes large scale pollution in the area, are allowed to continue as projects of "national importance", then there is no justification to ban the projects of builders engaged in non-commercial construction and which are not causing any pollution.

"To justify the Central Vista construction, the Central government has stated that it is complying with the CPCB norms of 2017 and as a result, there is no pollution. The same norms can also be followed by all the builders. Further, the flying squads that have already been appointed by the Central government can easily ensure that any building activity contrary to the CPCB Norms of 2017 is stopped," the application stated.

Developers and Builders Forum, a forum of more than 60 builders in Delhi, in the application argued that even within the construction activities, admittedly the major contributors to pollution are the big commercial projects like multi-storey buildings, Central Vista project, Metro construction, construction of fly-overs and underpasses, etc.

"The share of residential construction is a miniscule percentage and when taken in light of the fact that construction overall contributes only 6.7-7.9 per cent to the air pollution of NCR, makes the contribution of non-commercial construction almost negligible," it added while referring to report prepared by Centre for Science and Environment studying the particulate pollution at Delhi.

It said other causes like vehicular pollution, industrial pollution, stubble burning, etc are the major causes for the current health hazard.

The application stated that the blanket ban has directly affected the livelihoods of a large number of construction workers, supervisory personnel, and other managerial staff who would be employed at such sites on a daily or monthly basis.

At a time when the entire country is coming out of the pandemic, any such ban affecting the livelihoods of a large number of citizens would have devastating effects on the society, it added.

"It is humbly submitted that the Covid-19 pandemic has badly hit the real estate business and in the last two years, builders have nearly had no cash-flow in view of repeated lockdowns and negative market sentiment. However, since opening up of the economy after the second wave, the members of the present Applicant and other such builders have restarted their businesses with a positive view to finish projects and houses on time," it added.

They further said that the builders part of the forum use the latest construction technology so as to reduce dust pollution and prescribe to the laid down norms.

Seeking direction that order of November 24 of the court imposing a blanket ban ought to be re-visited by the Court, the builders said that order was passed without taking the views of all stakeholders and without differentiating between construction activities of various nature.

It is submitted that the present blanket ban on all construction activities takes within its sweep even small constructions of residential and other units which can in no manner be said to be causing large scale pollution.

If the share of non-commercial construction as a contributor to pollution in NCR is a miniscule percentage, it would serve no useful purpose in continuing the said ban on such activities, it added.

The apex court is hearing a plea seeking immediate measures to curb pollution in the city. (ANI)

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