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DU students protest against construction of 39-storey building

NEW DELHI: The 39-storey private building being built near Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station has united all stakeholders of Delhi University. On Monday, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) staged a demonstration against the construction. Since November 4, certain teachers and students have been sitting on strike. Starting the campaign “build hostels instead of the private building”, students say they will not let the building come up at any cost. The entire issue pertains to the 2-acre land, which Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) sold to a private builder – Young Builders Private Limited — who will be constructing the 39-storey building. The land originally belonged to ministry of defence. Then, DMRC acquired 3.5 hectares from the ministry in 2001for the construction of the metro. A part of it was then sold to the private builder for Rs 214 crore. So in 2012, the university moved Delhi high court. In 2015, the court ruled against the university stating that the area does not fall under the jurisdiction of North Campus. In 2018, the university moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the high court. The court again dismissed the petition questioning the university over the delay in filling of the appeal. In February, DU filed a special leave petition in Supreme Court challenging the court’s rulings. “From the very beginning, we have been saying that the construction of this building violates Master Plan of Delhi 2021. Most importantly, it is going to compromise the safety of the women students, as the building will overlook four women’s hostels,” said Bipin Tiwari, deputy dean (works) of DU. With North Delhi Municipal Corporation giving approval for the plan, the area has already been barricaded. On October 21, the university had also sent a legal notice to the corporation. However, the north corporation commissioner, Varsha Joshi, said no irregularities have been found in the process. “The project has been duly cleared by the standing committee of the civic body,” she said. Even DMRC stated that they have followed all rules and the court has in the past also ruled in their favour. “After the construction of the metro station, DMRC decided to utilise the surplus land available for property development as per which two hectares of land was leased out to a private party in 2008. Additional revenue earned from property development is used for operational requirements and also for subsidising passenger services and loan payback. As per the mandate of the Government of India, DMRC is permitted to use surplus land available to it for property development activities for revenue generation purposes,” said a DMRC official. DU Students’ Union office-bearers have said they will meet the officials at the north corporation, DMRC, lieutenant governor of Delhi and officials of the ministry of defence respectively for effective redressal on this matter. The representatives of Young Builders did not respond to the queries from the paper. However, their website mentions, “The promoters have diversified into real estate by acquiring from DMRC a 20,000sqm plot at Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station.”