WHERE ARE THE COMMUNITY CENTRES?
GDA has some explaining to do, now that the Allahabad HC wants to know why plots in Vasundhara, Indirapuram and Vaishali, meant for community centres, are being converted for residential use
How important are community centres for city dwellers? A place for weddings, gatherings, sports, etc, such places give locals a venue to get together and work for improvement of their communities and for leisure activities. The Allahabad High Court (HC) recently asked the Ghaziabad Development Authority to explain how plots meant for community centres and entertainment sites under the social infrastructure head of Master Plan 2021 in Vasundhara, Indirapuram and Vaishali were converted for commercial and residential use.
Lack of social infrastructure in these sections of Ghaziabad because of this Master Plan violation was raised in a public interest litigation in the high court by the Federation of Apartment Owners Association, representing 35 associations of apartment owners comprising residents of around 15,000 units in Ghaziabad city.
Three cases of major violations of Master Plan 2021 by the Ghaziabad Development Authority have been mentioned in the PIL, the first involving a plot in Ahinsa Khand-II, Indirapuram. The federation has alleged that this piece of land was reserved in the Master Plan for community facilities or recreational purposes. Somewhere in the late ’90s it was leased by GDA to Victory Infratech Private Limited, a real estate developer, for construction and running a community place. As per terms of the lease, GDA constructed the centre - Indirapuram Habitat Centre - and leased it to the developer to run.
“Initially, Victory Infratech Private Limited, t hrough Indirapuram Habitat Centre, offered recreational facilities such as making it available for community functions etc. It maintained lawns which were lent out to third parties on rent for marriage parties, community shows, etc. However, it appears that Victory Infratech claiming that it was unable to make profits by way of the aforesaid activities, has started constructing commercial shops and residential apartments on the said plot and shockingly, GDA have allowed the illegal construction,” the Federation has alleged in its petition.
The other two violations highlighted are i n phase2 in Indirapuram and plot numbers 530, 532, 541, 542, at Mahiuddinpur village in Kanawani.
KK Singh, secretary of the Federation of Apartment Owners Association, alleges that, “In Indirapuram phase-2, GDA is carrying out land use conversion without permissions from the National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB) and is on verge of completing the formalities of change in land use which is completely illegal and without jurisdiction. Due to these violations, GDA has become a partner in these gross illegalities of converting common benefit land to commercial/ residential plots in collusion with private developers.”
Singh says that unless NCRPB permits land use change, any conversion by GDA will be illegal and refers to a Supreme Court judgment dated October 1, 1996, which said, “…one stipulation is inescapable that unless the National Capital Region Planning Board gives the green signal nothing can go ahead. The necessary implication of this is also that at every stage in reference to the plans, aforesaid, each Constituent State, a part of the National Capital Region plan, has to keep a close consultation with the federal agency which is the Board.”
The SC judgment has made it clear that development plans have to be carried out step by step – Any project plan drawn up by a developer has to be in concurrence with the Master Plan i n accordance with