Pubic cannot be restrained from using parks leased for commercial purposes

National Green Tribunal (NGT): While appreciating that recreational and aesthetic uses of some parks cannot be curtailed, NGT held that public at large cannot be prevented from access to the area for recreation, leisure and usage as lung space during the time it is not being used for marriages etc. NGT further observed that privatizing and commercializing of green areas like parks will not only deny people using these areas for recreation and health benefits but will also go against the public trust doctrine and precautionary principles. The Tribunal was hearing an application filed by Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Tradition and Protection of National Awareness (also known as SPCHETNA), a non–Government and non–profit organization, working for the protection of culture, heritage, environment, traditions and promotion of national awareness. It was alleged in the application that land around the Asiad Tower situated adjacent to Siri fort complex is a green area under the Master Plan and meant to be used only for recreational purposes, but as DDA had allowed Jhankar Banquets for conducting marriage parties, Jhankar Banquets had raised unauthorized permanent and temporary construction in the green area and was preventing public from using the park. It was further alleged that as it is well settled that parks provide for certain lung space, commercial use of the green area results in violation of law. DDA, in its reply, submitted that the area concerned is not a public park but a part of district park and there are permissible uses under the master plan 2001and 2021, therefore, the land which has been given on lease for 30 years have been put to use for the purpose mentioned in the plan. After perusing the statutory rules under the Delhi Development Act, 1957 in the form of Master Plan 1962, 2001 and 2021 which governs the area, NGT noted that just because the MPD allows portion of District Park to be used for recreational purposes, it does not mean that such portion can be put to the exclusive domain of such licensees preventing public from using the green area during the other times when the recreational activities does not takes place. While partly allowing the application, NGT directed Jhankar Banquets to use part of the district park for marriage parties for not more than 10 days a month and allowed public to use the area as lung space for the rest of the month. Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Tradition and Protection of National Awareness v. Union of India, 2015 SCC OnLine NGT 7, decided on 10.07.2015

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