Hauz Khas Village in the Capital tries to clean up its act after being rapped for environmental non-compliance

Hauz Khas Village, an erstwhile bohemian neighbourhood that was taken over by trendy boutiques and expensive restaurants in the Capital, was rapped by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) last month over flouting of environmental norms. Concerned over health hazards posed by these outlets to the environmentally sensitive zone, which also has a heritage site and a forested ridge area, the NGT directed a closure of several eateries there.

A Bench headed by Justice P. Jyothimani took note of the absence of proper waste water treatment mechanisms and proper licences to run restaurants. After shutting down the eateries for about five days, they were given a period of four weeks to take corrective steps.

With the deadline just ended, construction work can be seen all around and installation of Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) is underway in the narrow alleys. Many restaurants have collaborated with others in the same building to install an ETP for the entire building, while others are bearing the entire cost of installation. The spaces are shared by independent designers’ boutiques, some of which were also shut down on the days of total closure.

Restaurant managers told The Hindu that they are working together to cross the legal and construction hurdles and hold regular meetings to ensure that work on the ETP installation continues smoothly.

Despite the fact that owners are determined to get out of this as unharmed as possible, many pointed out that other commercial places in Delhi go scot-free.

The manager of Amici restaurant said, “Most of our outlets which are in malls do not face such problems as the mall authorities usually take care of such formalities and installations on their own.” A month after the first rap, the restaurants are trying to restore their business and their popularity.

A little bit on the village’s history. Hauz Khas, which literally means royal tank, is what used to be a part of Emperor Ala-ud-din Khilji’s reign from his capital - Siri Fort. Siri is the second of New Delhi’s seven cities created by Khilji in the thirteenth century. Hauz-I-Alai is considered to be the only structure of Siri, which has survived till today. This tank was built by Khilji to ensure continuous supply of water to Siri Fort. Initially, this tank located on the eastern side of Siri, preserved rainwater, which could be later disbursed throughout the year. With gradual passage of time, the tank dried up and Firoz Shah Tughlaq repaired it much later. He also constructed various other monuments around the reservoir. Today there are ruins of a madrassa, an Islamic centre of learning, a mosque and the tomb of Firoz Shah Tughlaq. The urban village that it turned into still retains the glory of the lake, greenery and 800-year-old ruins.

More In: Delhi