Mr N N Khanna
Secretary, MoUD, GoI Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi – 110011
Sub: Cutivators’ settlements on Yamuna riverbed – imperatives under DD Act and Master Plan
Ref: Copies of my letters dated 05.04.04 and 13.04.04 to Commissioner Planning, DDA
In my letters under reference I have argued that expansion of cultivation and attendant development of cultivators’ settlements is a riverbed use that is not only desirable from environmental and heritage/tourism perspectives but also an imperative of Delhi Development Act / Master Plan.
Since 1962, nearly nothing has been done to implement statutory Plan provisions for village-like settlements (as contended in WP 8523/2002) and even special bye-laws for them have not been framed (as admitted to Hon’ble Supreme Court, as mentioned in my letter of 19.11.03, as well as in MCD-USAID-NIUA Consultative Workshop on 20.04.04). Likewise, mandatory special significance project for riverfront has not been prepared and legal Zonal Plan for riverbed has not been notified. Obviously, all schemes / proposals for village-like settlements and in riverbed are, therefore, ad-hoc.
While continuing to seek clarification about techno-legal basis of ad-hoc interventions in disregard of Delhi Master Plan, I also seek consideration of suggestion for restoration of Yamuna riverbed to urban agriculture (with village-based settlement development, heritage and eco-tourism interventions) after clearance of all encroachments as per High Court directions. This suggestion is made within ambit of s.10 and s.11A of Delhi Development Act in absence of mandatory Public Notice process and only because it is wholly consistent with Delhi Master Plan as well as with CGWA notification under EPA and Tourism Ministry’s decision to develop village tourism. I am enclosing my letters in this regard to Secretary Enviroment and Secretary Tourism.
An NGO working with concerned communities, a firm experienced in building community capacity for village-based eco-tourism and multi-disciplinary experts conversant with ridge-riverbed issues have expressed willingness to collaborate with riverbed cultivator communities on an initiative in pursuit of Master Plan objectives. Therefore, I also seek clarification of process(es) by which riverbed / village proposals are being considered / cleared in absence of Zonal Plan, byelaws, etc, so that concerned communities can take advantage of offers of those with expertise relevant to them and also submit for consideration their proposal consistent with Master Plan objectives.
Lastly, apropos the copy of letter from cultivators in Tejpal Ki Bagichi area, enclosed with my letter of 13.04.04 under reference, I seek directions for response to clarification sought about mistaken demolitions of cultivators’ homesteads on 09.04.04 in the drive to clear jhuggis, especially since a so-called farmhouse, etc, are still standing in the area in defiance of court orders.
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner
- Secretary, Ministry of Tourism
- Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests