The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) submitted an affidavit to High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday February 18th 2015, in which they held the State government responsible of making changes to the Revised Master Plan (RMP)-2015 recently in which the conditions for commercial use of land were relaxed.
The BDA had come under fire from civic groups for making changes in the Zoning Regulations of Bangalore’s Revised Master Plan – 2015 in contrary to the affidavit submitted to the High Court of Karnataka last year.
It was exactly a year ago that the High Court had given an order (on February 19th, 2014) directing the State government to amend land use rules of the BDA’s Revised Master Plan so as to allow only the ancillary use of residential properties in selected areas. Ancillary land use is the utilisation of the area for providing essential services to people living in the area, such as barber’s shop, milk, grocery and other necessities.
The order was in response to the Public Interest Litigation filed in 2008 by civic groups who had challenged the Draft Revised Master Plan BDA – 2015, prepared by the BDA that permitted commercial use of residential areas, through a land use category called “mixed residential.”
During the course of hearing, the BDA had submitted an affidavit of making necessary changes in the Draft Revised Master Plan. The writ petition was then disposed of by the High Court based on the affidavit filed by the BDA.
However, the final notification of the Zoning Regulations published by the Urban Development Department Secretariat on December 11th, 2014, was in contrary to the affidavit submitted by the BDA. The civic group members led by Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) filed an instant writ petition in the HC on January 21th, 2015, praying for quashing of the final notification of the RMP published by the government.
When the case came up for hearing before the bench comprising Justice D H Waghela and Justice Ram Mohan Reddy on February 18th 2015, the advocates arguing on behalf of the petitioners accused the BDA of violating its own undertaking before the High Court. The petition said the amended regulations were completely arbitrary contrary to the affidavit. “It frustrates the very object of several Town and Country Planning enactments which seek to promote orderly and planned development of Bengaluru city,” the petition said.
In turn, second respondent – the BDA said that it had made changes in the zonal regulations in accordance with the affidavit and had forwarded it to the State government. The BDA accused the government of making extra changes and tweaking the regulations before notifying it.
Judges ask the govt to decide action
The counsel for the State government (Respondent 1) admitted to having made the changes in the regulations before notifying it. He said the notification with changes was published as draft notification calling for objections, after which the final notification was published.
The court which heard both the sides, sought to know if the government could supersede the affidavit and bring changes in the notification. The judges said the court would initiate suo motu contempt proceedings, if the government or BDA is found to be at fault.
The judges asked the government to decide whether it will defend the changes made or withdraw the changes and convey the court in the next hearing. The judges also asked the petitioner to identify and furnish details of the area where amendments have been taken benefit of in last two months.
The judges sought the presence of the BBMP commissioner in its next hearing. The court posted the hearing to February 23.