DDA strikes again

Target: the Yamuna riverbedWeapon: Zonal Development Plan

 
By Vikas Parashar
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

DDA strikes again

-- (Credit: Amit Shanker / CSE)The Delhi Development Authority (dda) has come up with another loophole-infested plan. Its draft Zonal Development Plan (zdp) for the Yamuna suggests major changes in the land use pattern of the riverbed. Outlawing riverbed farming, considered the most legitimate and ecologically useful activity on the riverbed, is one such change. Subsection (1) of section 8 of the Delhi Development Act, 1957, makes mandatory a zdp to protect the riverbed. Originally to be enforced along with the Master Plan for Delhi-2001 (mpd-2001) way back in 1990, the zdp draft is 15 years late.

As per the mpd -2001, the Yamuna riverbed falls under two categories: Zone- p (north of Wazirabad Road up to the northern boundary of the nctd, or National Capital Territory of Delhi) and Zone- o (south of Wazirabad Road up to nctd's southern boundary). The draft zdp has dropped Zone-p; the entire riverbed (9,700 hectares) now falls under Zone-o, subdivided into eight zones (see table: Death knell).

Planning experts claim the draft zdp sounds the death knell for the Yamuna, already under onslaught (see: 'Master Violators', Down To Earth, September 15, 2004). Poonam Prakash, lecturer at the School of Planning and Architecture (spa) , New Delhi, says dda is disregarding legal procedure: "As per section 8 of Delhi Development Act, 1957, large scale modifications in land use, as suggested in this draft zdp, can be made only through the mpd and not a zdp. Besides, the draft neither mentions agriculture, nor details like how much land (in percentage) will be public or semi public in a particular sub-zone."

Death knell
Proposed changes in the land use pattern of the Yamuna riverbed
Sub-zone Reach Land use as per MPD Approx area (hectare)

Proposed predominant Land use

East West
O1 Haryana Border Wazirabad Barrage Rural 3,620 Recreation Recreation
O2 Wazirabad ISBT Barrage Recreational (District Park), Rural & Water Body 1,100 Recreation
Pondage
Recreation
Pondage
O3 ISBT Bridge Old Railway Bridge Recreational (District Park), Transportation & Water Body. Public and Semi Public 225 Recreation
Pondage
Recreation
Pondage
O4 Old Railway Bridge IP Barrage Transportation, Recreational (District Park) Commercial River & Water Body 800 Public and Semi Public Facilities Public and Semi Public Facilities
O5 IP Barrage New Railway Bridge Electric Power House. Transportation, Recreational (District Park), River and Water Body 365 Recreation
Public and Semi Public Facilities
Recreation
Public and Semi Public Facilities
O6 New Railway Bridge NH 24 Bridge Recreational (District Park), River and Water Body 390 Recreation
Public and Semi Public Facilities
Transport
Recreation
Public and Semi Public Facilities
Transport
O7 NH 24 Bridge Okhla Wier Recreational (District Park), River and Water Body 1,300 Recreation
Public and Semi Public Facilities
Recreation
Public and Semi Public Facilities
O8 Okhla Wier UP Border River & Water Body 1,900

Public and Semi Public Facilities
Source: Anon 2004, Zonal Development Plan For River Yamuna Area (Zone ‘O’ and Part Zone ‘P’) (Draft), Delhi Development Authority, mimeo

While the draft zdp doesn't mention farming, communities spread over a large part of the riverbed, in areas like Tejpal Ki Bagichi, Dholakpala and Belagaon, have been farming the riverbed for generations. Some of them even trace their land rights to the pre-Independence era. These communities faced a crisis earlier this year, when the then Union tourism minister Jagmohan initiated a cleanliness drive (see: 'Beautification drive', Down To Earth, May 15, 2004).

Planners are also worried about several illegal structures on the riverbed. "If this zdp is implemented in its existing form, it will legalise all illegal structures on the riverbed," warns K T Ravindran, professor, spa, New Delhi. Prakash elaborates: "The issues related to public objections on changed land use for some structures on the riverbed have not been sorted out. Incorporating changes in the zdp makes them legal." Gita Dewan Verma, a Delhi-based planner, says: "What happened to the public objections filed against the public notices for land use change for structures like Delhi Metro Rail's station? We are gearing up to comment on the draft in the form of public notice, as we had done earlier. "

Copies of the draft zdp have been sent to the Union ministry of environment and forest, the Central Pollution Control Board, the Yamuna Standing Committee, the National Capital Region Board and the Haryana government for 'official' comments. It has not been made public. It will be updated on the basis of official responses and a copy of the updated plan would be sent to the Union ministry of urban development and poverty alleviation for approval. After its approval, a public notice would be issued, asking the public to file its objections within 90 days.

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