Constitutional, Property, Marine Pollution, Land Use, Jurisdiction, Air pollution, Standing, Contract, Permits, Damages
These two petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution have been filed in public interest. They call in question the correctness of a decision taken by the respondents for construction of an 'elevated corridor' for the proposed DMRC project from Central Secretariat to Badarpur in Delhi. The challenge is primarily founded on the following pleas: that the elevated corridor violates the fundamental right of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India to have clean and pollution free environment, it would create noise pollution and violate Section 2 of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and result in a discrimination of residents of high density residential colonies vis-a-vis those who reside in low density areas. The respondent DMRC sets out the factual backdrop in which construction of a mass rapid transport system was found to be essential to ease vehicular traffic on the roads and to provide efficient, cheap and timely transport to the commuters in the capital city. The Court observes that this is a case of the type where legal issues are intertwined with those involving determination of policy and a plethora of technical issues. In such a situation, courts of law have to be very wary and must exercise their jurisdiction with circumspection for they must not transgress into the realm of policy making, unless the policy is inconsistent with the Constitution and the laws. But the petitioners have not, in this case, been able to demonstrate how the decision to build an elevated metro corridor violates any constitutional mandate. About noise levels, the Court observes that there is no scientific study conducted nor any material to show that the existing noise levels in the colonies that fall en route the Central Secretariat and Badarpur corridor would go beyond the permissible limits with the construction of the project. The Environment Impact Assessment Report placed on record has taken note of the impact of the project operation from the noise levels and concluded that on account of a reduction of vehicular traffic, the road traffic noise as compared to the existing levels would come down by about 7 to 9 decibels, no matter the total noise level would be about 75 decibels. Therefore it held: The challenge to the correctness of the decision to construct an elevated corridor for the proposed DMRC project is repelled and the writ petition dismissed to that extent but, the respondents shall, pursuant to the directions of the Empowered Group of Ministers and decision of the DMRC referred to in the body of these writ petitions, carry forward the process of identifying and applying all such measures as may be necessary to reduce noise pollution and concerns regarding privacy of those owning properties and residing in the vicinity of the elevated corridor.