Delhi

Sanjay Van, Neela Hauz Lake gasp for breath

Commercial confusion:The Delhi High Court had set a deadline of February 2013 for revival of Neela Hauz. But, till date the lake is battling untreated sewage.Photo: Special Arrangement  

: When a number of car service stations opened at the Bawa Potteries Complex in Vasant Kunj in the mid 2000s, resident welfare associations and activists were an apprehensive lot. For long, they had been fighting to revive the Neela Hauz Lake and maintain the Sanjay Van, a forest on Aruna Asaf Ali road that is barely a kilometre away from these commercial units.

The Delhi Development Authority had earlier declared Bawa Potteries Complex, an area measuring 0.9 acres, as ‘Manufacturing’ (Light and Service Industry) under the Master Plan of Delhi, 2001. However, in March 2016, the agency in an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal declared the area as ‘Industrial’ under MPD-2021.

This came as a surprise to residents of Vasant Kunj, Kishangarh and other neighbouring areas as many of them are still fighting a case of land acquisition, which is pending with the Lieutenant-Governor. As commercial units started to mushroom here, Sanjay Van, Neela Hauz Lake and other small water bodies began to feel the brunt. This was becasue these units lacked proper sewage.

“There is no reply from the DDA about when they declared it an ‘Industrial’ area. Second, what happens to all the industrial waste discharged from these units?” asked Vishwanath Chaturvedi, an activist who has filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal.

Shockingly, the Delhi Jal Board has admitted that during an inspection of the area last year, it was found that no sewer connection existed in the complex. The waste water pipeline had been connected with a nearby ‘nallah’. “This flows directly into the Sanjay Van and eventually trickles into the Neela Hauz Lake,” said Air Vice-Marshal Vinod Rawat, who joined hands with the DDA in 2009 to revive Sanjay Van.

The Delhi High Court had set a deadline of February 2013 for revival of Neela Hauz. But, till date the lake is battling untreated sewage.

DDA officials say that the agency plans to open a biodiversity park around the lake. “The proposal has been prepared and work on the revival of the Neela Hauz Lake is being worked out,” said a DDA official. But now with an ‘Industrial’ area next to the forest, environmentalists and activists fear that these plans will not reap any benefit.

Surprisingly, the affidavit submitted by the DDA also states that the Bawa Potteries ‘Industrial’ area now measures 3.49 acres. “Initially, the site was measured manually and notionally shown in the zonal development plan as 0.9 acres. Later, the area was worked out manually and it came to 3.49 acres,” the affidavit submitted by DDA reads.

While the DDA has declared it an ‘Industrial’ area, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee is yet to recognise it as a ‘conforming industrial area’. Only five industrial areas are listed in the South district and these don’t include ‘Bawa Potteries Complex’. But owners of the service stations here say that commercial activities in the complex date back to the 1950s, before the enactment of the DDA and Municipal Corporation came into place. “The matter is pending in the National Green Tribunal. We don’t want to comment on it,” said a manager with a car service centre in the area.

When The Hindu called the DDA spokesperson on Saturday to ask about the status of the area, he said, “Let me check.” Despite repeated attempts, there was no response till Sunday evening.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 11:06:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/sanjay-van-neela-hauz-lake-gasp-for-breath/article8487982.ece

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