New Delhi, Jun 20 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has directed members of an association, dealing in the wholesale trade of fruits and vegetables, to vacate Delhi Jal Board’s land here for setting up a water treatment plant.
The high court said the water treatment plant with 50 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) capacity is essential to serve “a very large part of Delhi” and would benefit about 15 lakh residents.
“Clearly, public interest at large would suffer if construction of the proposed water treatment plant is impeded in any way,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sachin Datta said in a recent order.
The high court vacated an interim order of September last year by which the members of Najafgarh Fruits and Vegetables Wholesale Sellers and Adhitey Association Sabzi Mandi, Najafgarh, who were occupying the DJB land to carry on their wholesale trade in fruits and vegetables, continued to occupy the space till further orders.
The high court granted six weeks to the association and its members to vacate the land and made it clear that no further time would be granted.
“In case, the members of the appellant association do not voluntarily vacate the area, it shall be open to the respondents to take coercive steps to remove them,” it said.
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) sought vacation of the interim order on the ground that the land was required for the construction of a second 50 MGD water treatment plant which would provide relief to the residents of Dwarka Sub-City Najafgarh, Uttam Nagar, Sagarpur, Rajokari, and Bijwasan.
DJB said the project was essential for the redressal of the water supply issue being suffered by the residents of these areas.
The high court noted that admittedly the land where members of the association were shifted under the orders of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) due to the COVID-19 situation belonged to DJB which now requires it for setting up the water treatment plant.
“The water treatment plant is essential to serve a very large part of Delhi and would benefit about 15 lakh residents. Clearly, public interest at large would suffer if construction of the proposed water treatment plant is impeded in any way,” the court said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the DJB, submitted that since the land belonged to the board, which is required for a public project, the association members have no vested right to continue to occupy the land for carrying on their wholesale trade.
Delhi government counsel also showed to the court the ongoing large-scale activity being undertaken on a part of the plot where the appellants are carrying on their trade.
The high court noted that the work was going on at full speed and completion of the project cannot brook any delay and for that reason, the interim order which was coming in the way of DJB in undertaking further work cannot be allowed to continue.
The appellants have no vested right to occupy the land. it said.
Senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, representing the association, submitted that re-location of the members to Bahadurgarh Jharoda Road would cause severe difficulties not only to them but also to the public at large as it would lead to severe congestion on the road which also has a divider in between.
He said that the members of the association are facilitating the trade of fruits and vegetables to the tune of about 3,000 tons a day, which is consumed by the public at large, and closure of the ‘mandi’ at its present location without alternate arrangement would lead to scarcity of fruits and vegetables in Delhi and result in a rise in prices of these commodities.
The high court also directed the Delhi Chief Secretary to fix a meeting with the representatives of the association and all other concerned authorities to address the issues raised by them and added “we hope that a serious endeavour will be made in that regard”.
“We make it clear that the vacation of the interim order and the limit of time granted to the appellant to vacate the land, is not subject to the outcome of the meeting, and whether or not the appellants are satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, they shall, in any event, vacate the area under their occupation presently,” it said.
The high court asked the Delhi government to implement the directions issued in the previous order to relocate the members of the association to the Bahadurgarh Jharoda Road. PTI SKV SKV RKS RKS
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