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NGOs demand relocation of Delhi Metro flats

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

“ All the rules, norms are being violated”


Present land use of the area as per the Master Plan is ‘green/agriculture and water body'

The Yamuna crusaders want DMRC to abandon the site and move to an alternate location


NEW DELHI: Citing a looming threat to the Yamuna riverbed, non-government organisations in the Capital are demanding relocation of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's upcoming flats away from the river's floodplains.

Members of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan and Tapas have called for relocation of the construction, citing violations of rules and the threat to the floodplains. The flats, which the NGOs say have come up in gross violation of norms, are to be used by the DMRC as residential quarters for its maintenance staff.

“There is more land available with the Delhi Development Authority just across the site on the Noida Link Road. Earlier also, we requested the DMRC to abandon the site and move to an alternate location,” said YJA convenor Manoj Misra over the weekend.

Even as the DMRC claims to have the required permissions to construct the building, the Delhi Urban Arts Commission will hold a meeting this week to assess the construction. A DMRC spokesperson said it “got the clearance from DUAC for construction of staff quarters on the said land in January 2008,” but a DUAC member refuted the claim.

“DMRC is misleading the public by claiming DUAC approval for the illegal construction of 90 flats on the riverbed. DMRC was only given conceptual approval in January 2008 while being asked to ensure change of land use from the DDA and no sanction for construction has been given. They were supposed to come back to the DUAC for sanction for the construction, but they never did,” said DUAC member Ratish Nanda.

DMRC's other claim that the land use change was not required as the quarters are being constructed on land allotted to DMRC by DDA and the U.P. Irrigation Department for operations-related works has also been refuted. A DMRC spokesperson said: “The staff quarters are being constructed for the essential staff involved in operations-related works like maintenance of rolling stock, electrical and mechanical works at Yamuna Depot.”

However, Mr. Misra disagreed saying: “There are two kinds of land in the riverbed involved here. One is the strip of land along the Yamuna Pushta (now called the Noida Link road) that belongs to the U.P. Irrigation Department. The staff quarters (90 flats) and the Metro Mall by Parsvnath Builders are under construction in this strip of land. The present land use of this strip as per the Master and Zonal Plan is ‘green/agriculture and water body'. The other is the rest of the riverbed/floodplain (khadir) that belongs to the DDA. The DMRC's Yamuna Bank complex that consists of a depot, yard, alignment and station is located here.”

“Any construction in the riverbed in Delhi requires prior approval of the Yamuna Standing Committee (YSC), an executive body of the Central Water Commission. But this is only an executive and not a statutory body. Any construction in the riverbed would also require environmental clearance either from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests or the State environment department depending on the size of the construction,” he added.

Vinod Jain, founder of non-government organisation Tapas, said even YSC had earlier asked the DDA to offer alternate site to DMRC for construction. “In their (DMRC) affidavit presented in the High Court, they did not specify anything about these staff quarters. It has also been proven that the eastern side of the floodplains -- where these quarters are coming up -- allows more recharge of groundwater than the western part. Keeping the scarcity of water in mind, the DMRC should look for an alternate place,” Mr. Jain said.

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