BHUBANESWAR: Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) on Monday overcame an important legal hurdle on its jurisdiction with the Supreme Court issuing a stay on a March 27 Orissa high court order, which had prevented the civic authority from annexing 50 revenue villages under its fold.
The Odisha government had moved the apex court challenging the HC order, which had quashed its 2003 notification bringing the 50 villages under BDA planned area.
"The Supreme Court has stayed the high court's order," BDA's vice-chairman Vishal Dev told TOI. The development has paved the way for BDA to resume its exercise of approving building plans for new housing projects in those villages. BDA at present has 556 revenue villages under its area, including the 50 expanded regions.
"Building approval plans in those 50 villages were stuck in legal limbo. Now those GPs are legally under BDA jurisdiction where we can regulate uncontrolled and illegal construction of buildings," Dev said.
The SC stay, for the time being, drew curtains on the uncertainty over who is the competent authority to accord approval. Earlier, while BDA stopped entertaining applications seeking building approval plan in wake of the High Court intervention, the panchayats were not giving permission after a panchayati raj department November 2010 order not to give new approvals in villages notified to be under the BDA. Some builders, who had already applied for approval to BDA by depositing scrutiny and processing fees by the time the HC order came, were taking a scrutiny certificate from the BDA and going ahead with projects.
Not less than 100 upcoming housing projects were held up due to the legal dispute, which started after a builder moved the High Court earlier this year challenging the 2003 government notification. The realtor knocked HC door after BDA issued demolition order of his illegal apartment in Kalaranga. In a setback to BDA, the HC had observed that the Orissa Development Authorities (ODA) Act'1982 (meant for urban areas), under which BDA was created, cannot be extended to rural areas covered by panchayats.
Real estate players heaved a sigh of relief after the SC stay order. "It is a welcome development, but for temporary period. At the same time, we have to wait for the final verdict of the apex court," said DS Tripathy, state president of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai). "The stagnant projects can now get approvals from BDA," Tripathy said.
He said legal standing of such technical approval remains uncertain. "Government should remove the uncertainty at the earliest by making suitable changes in policy to allow the real estate sector to grow. There must be clarity and consistency on the policy," Tripathy said.