Apartmentalisation of residential unit in Phase I of Chandigarh prohibited: SC - New Delhi News

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that it is necessary that a proper balance is struck between sustainable development and environmental protection, as it ruled that fragmentation, division, bifurcation, and apartmentalisation of a residential unit in Phase I of Chandigarh is prohibited.

by IANS | Updated Jan 10, 2023

Apartmentalisation of residential unit in Phase I of Chandigarh prohibited: SC - New Delhi News

It said it appeals to the legislature, the executive, and the policy makers at the Centre as well as at the state levels to make necessary provisions for carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment studies before permitting urban development.

A bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna said: "We hold that in view of Rule 14 of the 1960 Rules, Rule 16 of the 2007 Rules, and the repeal of the 2001 Rules, fragmentation/division/ bifurcation/apartmentalisation of a residential unit in Phase I of Chandigarh is prohibited."

In a 131-page judgment, Justice Gavai, who authored the judgment on behalf of the bench, said the authorities of the Chandigarh administration are blindly sanctioning building plans, when from the building plans itself it is apparent that the same are in effect converting one dwelling unit into three apartments.

"Such a haphazard growth may adversely affect the heritage status of Phase I of Chandigarh which is sought to be inscribed as UNESCO's heritage city. It is further to be noted that though the Chandigarh Administration is permitting one dwelling unit to be converted into three apartments, its adverse effect on traffic has not been addressed," he said.

The bench noted that with the increase in number of dwelling units, a corresponding increase in the vehicles is bound to be there. However, without considering the said aspect, one dwelling unit is permitted to be converted into three apartments, it added.

The bench directed the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee to consider the issue of redensification in Phase I of the city. "After the Heritage Committee considers the issues, the Chandigarh Administration would consider amending the CMPA2031 (Chandigarh Master Plan) and the 2017 Rules insofar as they are applicable to Phase-I in accordance with the recommendations of the Heritage Committee," said the bench.

It further added that such amendments shall be placed before the Central government, which shall take a decision with regard to approval of such amendments keeping in view the requirement of maintaining the heritage status of Le Corbusier zone.

"Till a final decision as aforesaid is taken by the Central Government: the Chandigarh Administration shall not sanction any plan of a building which ex-facie appears to be a modus operandi to convert a single dwelling unit into three different apartments occupied by three strangers," said the bench.

The top court said the number of floors in Phase I shall be restricted to three with a uniform maximum height as deemed appropriate by the Heritage Committee keeping in view the requirement to maintain its heritage status.

Justice Gavai said: "We observe that it is high time that the legislature, the executive and the policy makers at the Centre as well as at the state levels take note of the damage to the environment on account of haphazard developments and take a call to take necessary measures to ensure that the development does not damage the environment".

The top court's judgment came on a plea by Resident Welfare Association and others against Union Territory of Chandigarh and others.

After the promulgation of the 2001 Rules, permitting residential plots to be constructed or utilised as apartments, the Chandigarh administration faced severe public backlash on the ground that such a practice would completely alter the character of the city and overburden the existing infrastructure and facilities. The rules were repealed by a notification in October 2007.

However, the appellant association claimed that the administration turned a blind eye to residential units surreptitiously being converted into apartments.

Petitions were filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court against apartmentalisation, but it said that mere construction of three floors on a private plot and utilisation of the same as independent units would not amount to fragmentation.

It held that unless there has been a sub-division of the building duly recognised by the Estate Officer along with proportionate share in common areas and common facilities, the same would not amount to apartmentalisation. The petitioners moved the apex court challenging this order.

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