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Public interest must take precedence over individual property rights, Delhi high court said on Friday, rejecting concerns raised by certain residents affected by route alignment of the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS).

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed a petition by Siddhartha Extension Pocket C Residents Welfare Association and Senior Citizens Welfare Forum against the proposed construction of a portion of the RRTS through the locality that involves building a viaduct.

The project is a semi-high-speed rail corridor designed to connect Delhi, Ghaziabad, and Meerut. “Public interest stands at the forefront of this project, given its significant benefits such as reducing air pollution, alleviating traffic congestion, and offering a more efficient transportation system. Additionally, the project promises substantial environmental benefits, as indicated by the Detailed Project Report, including significant reductions in annual emission rates of particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide,” HC noted.

Therefore, “in the act of balancing individual property rights and overarching public interest, the latter must take precedence. The scale tips in favour of a solution that serves the larger community, and ensures the most efficient use of public resources,” HC added.

In their public interest litigation, the residents argued that authorities arbitrarily abandoned the initial route plan for the project, which did not include Siddhartha Extension, and unilaterally altered it to include a viaduct that would pass directly through Siddhartha Extension. Seeking protection of their legal rights to properties, the residents said that National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) should be stopped from encroaching upon these rights.

Pointing out that NCRTC was not a novice in the field and the chosen alignment was not an arbitrary decision, but one taken for technical viability, cost-efficiency, and broader societal gains, the court noted "The potential alignment options for the concerned viaduct propose the following: (a) bypassing Pocket C of Siddhartha Extension, or (b) running though Pocket C of Siddhartha Extension, impacting 24 flats, or (c) cutting through Siddharth Extension colony and affecting 8 flats". It said as per experts’ evaluation, Option 3 not only minimizes the number of flats affected, but also presents a cost-effective approach when compared to other two options.

It added that the positioning of pillars in the chosen option was carefully planned to ensure non-interference with roadways or other easement rights like parking and free spaces and minimized the impact on local residents by affecting the least number of flats. HC also said that before starting the project NCRTC plans to have proper road diversions to reduce the likelihood of congestion and accidents.