Thursday, February 08, 2007

Masterplan Silent on 650 Acres

The Urban Development Ministry may be trying to make the Delhi Masterplan 2021 more eco-friendly but interestingly the DDA's plan does not include 650 hectares of land in the Vasant Kunj-Mahipalpur area as part of the Ridge.

Despite many Supreme Court committees directing that the area be notified as a reserve forest, the MPD has not included the area. Environmentalists say that having failed to fill up water bodies across the city, the DDA is now eyeing the commercial benefits of the Ridge.

The MPD mentions 7,777 hectares as the notified Ridge. This only includes the Northern, Central, South-Central (Sanjay Van) and Southern (Bhatti mine area) belt. Currently, the controversial Vasant Kunj malls are coming up on 25 hectares of this land, the army has 330 hectares and the DDA 315.

Other modifications in the Master Plan were notified in 1990 and reflected in the MPD 2001, but this area was left out. "The whole of the 6.5 km stretch along the Vasant Kunj, Mahipalpur, Vasant Vihar stretch has been left out. This area has already seen rampant construction and the DDA now wants to keep this open for further development," environmentalist Vikram Soni alleges.

The ridge is an extension of the Aravalli range but is not a continuous stretch, and it is this argument that the DDA has used to refute allegations that have been made against it. The DDA says this area is just "rocky land" and not forest area. In its affidavit before the Supreme Court in July 2004 and again in February 2005, the DDA stated that the land was just "rocky land" and merely a "land classification" which did not indicate the "land use". It adds that the JNU campus was also set up on this area.

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