No place for National Conservation Zones in UP and Delhi master plans
the profile of an area. They often bring in their wake office development, better residential stock and infrastructure. Take a look at the mall cluster near Vasant Kunj, located on Nelson Mandela Marg that has DLF Promenade, Emporio and Ambience malls. The advent of upscale malls in this otherwise middle class locality of Vasant Kunj was followed by offices. The area soon turned into a corporate block with several companies like ONGC, Bharti Airtel Limited and Maruti Limited opening their offices. The residential market undoubtedly benefited with capital values in Vasant Kunj moving up from ₹ 8,000 to ₹ 9,000 per sq ft in 2007 to their current levels at ₹ 12,500 per sq ft to ₹ 13,750 per sq ft.
The other way in which malls help improve a locality is that they pave the way for creation of new infrastructure. Areas with desolate roads and absent civic amenities get transformed into places buzzing with activity. Pacific mall’s story is interesting as the Pacific group approached a very ‘untouchable’ part of west Delhi. When they came to the lacklustre Subhash Nagar area, they knew they were filling in a gaping hole and doing wonders to the profile of this small trader-dominated locality. What of course helped was that the mall was on the metro corridor and well connected to other parts of west delhi and Dwarka.
According to Ashwini Sharma, a resident of Tilak Nagar, the Subhash Nagar mall convenience value and is a nuisance also at time. “The hypermarkets are great because we get everything for our daily needs over here. However, the traffic congestion around the mall makes our life miserable. It takes at least 15 minutes just to cross the mall by car on weekdays in evenings. on holidays it takes more than 30 minutes, he says.
Haryana, UP and Delhi have been in denial mode when it comes to the National Conservation Zone (NCZ) provision of the Regional Plan 2021, which was published in 2005. Since then, two master plans of Gurgaon, Haryana have by and large given NCZ a miss. The Gurgaon 2021 Master Plan, notified in 2007, and the Gurgaon 2025 Master Plan, notified in 2010, did not have any provisions for NCZ.
Finally, however, Gurgaon 2031, finalised in 2012, did show Aravalli areas as NCZ in the landuse map, but included an exception clause whereby a section of the hills in the urbanisable area were to be excluded from NCZ. What the left hand had given, the right hand had taken away.
After inserting an exception clause in the Gurgaon 2031 Master Plan in 2012, the Haryana government in 2013 demanded that the restriction on construction of 0.5% be deleted. When that did not materialise, they proposed detailing of NCZ. The intent behind this became apparent when in the first round of detailing in October 2014, the Gurgaon administration claimed that there were only about 600 hectares of NCZ in the district, as against the 20,000 plus hectare identified as NCZ in Gurgaon by the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB). This was because the Aravalli hills had been excluded. This has now been rectified by up to around 15,000 hectare by including the hills. An agreement to finally identify foothills and paleo channels may increase the NCZ by about another 500-1000 hectare in the Gurgaon district, says Chetan Agarwal, an environment analyst.
“If water bodies such as ghata jheel or lake (low lying area that should have been zoned as NCZ and not as a residential sector), Basai wetlands, Najafgarh jheel ( recorded as privately owned agriculture in revenue records), paleo-water channels (old nullahs), and foothills had been included in the NCZ, along with Aravallis and forests, and the NCZ actually been notified in 2005, then the ecological face of Gurgaon would have been very different. This step is better late than never and conserving them will definitely moderate the intensity of flooding during the monsoons and increase recharge of the water table,” says Agarwal.
As for other parts of NCR, Manoj Misra of Manoj Misra, head of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, says that the topography of these areas is different from Gurgaon. They may not have foothills like in Gurgaon but they have storm water drains and wetlands.
Akash Vashist, another environment activist, alleges that large parcels of community land such as ponds, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands had been sold for residential use. In response to different RTIs filed by him, he was informed that there were over 900 ponds i n Greater Noida, about 900 wetlands and 10-odd storm water drains in Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida. City forests designated in the master plans had been encroached upon and even partially sold off, but no natural conservation zones had been marked out. “Delineating these as NCZ will give them additional protection,” he adds. Continued from page 01
Malls help improve the profile of an area and lead to construction of better residential stock and infrastructure.
Conserving the Aravallis and water bodies in Gurgaon will lessen the intensity of flooding during the monsoons.