No place for Na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Zones in UP and Delhi master plans

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Van­dana Ram­nani

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

HT FILE PHOTO

Malls help im­prove the pro­file of an area and lead to con­struc­tion of bet­ter res­i­den­tial stock and in­fra­struc­ture.

AB­HI­NAV SAHA/HT

Con­serv­ing the Aravallis and wa­ter bod­ies in Gur­gaon will lessen the in­ten­sity of flooding dur­ing the mon­soons.

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