Letter, Court Matter; Sub: Environmental clearance for Mehrauli-Mahipalpur area projects, subject of PIL in Delhi High Court
Letter of 01.09.04 to Secretary MoEF (with copy to respondents in PIL and LG / DDA Chairman) seeking clarification for projects covered by the MPISG PIL, with reference to amendment of July 2004 to the EIA notification
Sub: Environmental clearance for Mehrauli-Mahipalpur area projects, subject of PIL in Delhi High Court
Ref: EIA notification S.O.60(E) of 27/01/1994, amended on 07/07/2004, and previous letters
I am writing in continuation of letters about projects in Delhi ridge and riverbed areas in contravention of statutory environmental protections under Delhi Master Plan / Delhi Development Act, 1957 and CGWA notifications / Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (cf, copy of letter of 20.06.04 to Secretary MoUD, encl.1) in general and, since news reports of 13.07.04 about NGOs petitioning Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee about certain projects that are subject of PIL, about the area under reference (cf, copy of letter of 04.08.04 to CEC, encl.2). The projects challenged in PIL include:
- DDA’s Sultangarhi scheme for mega-housing, etc, in 56 Hectares in Master Plan Green Belt
- Delhi Government’s super-specialty hospital south of Vasant Kunj in Master Plan Green Belt
- Delhi Government’s wholesale mandi at Andheria Morh in Master Plan ridge Regional Park
- DDA’s Vasant Kunj Shopping Malls near quarried ridge area on Master Plan institutional area
- DDA’s Biodiversity Park near its shopping malls on Master Plan residential area
While response is awaited to request for hearing by CEC in context of the PIL (targeted against the cumulative deleterious impact, including environmental, of such projects and based on prior engagements of citizens’ groups to whom I provide inputs as qualified Planner), on 17.08.04 a newspaper reported that CEC has ‘cleared’ in the NGO matter the project at (5) and, implicitly, (4). The editor’s response to a request for clarification is awaited. Meanwhile, site development work for project at (3) and basement work for project at (2) is underway and workers have arrived even on site of project at (1) stopped by intervention of High Court in 2002 (letter of 25.08.04 to Secretary MoUD in which regard is now at encl.3).
It appears to me that the above-mentioned projects also come within the purview of the amended EIA notification, being “new construction projects” (item-31 in Schedule-I) in which “construction work has not come up to the plinth level” on date of amendment (explanation (i) after para-3g) and to which exemptions by older notifications mentioned in para-3(a) cannot apply and those in new para-3(g) also do not apply if the thresholds are restrictive rather than permissive, ie, a project is not exempted even if one is exceeded.
It also appears to me from Form (A) for applying for clearance that these projects would be rejected on basis of 1(d) (Does the site conform to stipulated land use as per local land use plan), 5 (Water balance, since all will involve unlawful depletion of ground water), 6 (Solid wastes, especially in case of projects at (2) and (3)), 10 (displacement and rehabilitation, especially in case of project at (5), which has entailed on 29.07.04 monsoon time eviction of old settlements without rehabilitation plan), etc.
It also appears to me that any Expert Committee (required by Schedule-III to include experts in Land Use Planning, Rehabilitation, Project Appraisal, etc) would find these projects not only grossly illegal but also patently ill-considered and unworthy of clearance, as would any Public Hearing by due process set out in Schedule-IV (since over 1700 families had filed objections in response to s.11A Public Notice precipitated by PIL of 2002 in which High Court ordered the project at (1) stopped and inquired into).
Since the respondents are not allowing the High Court matter to proceed on account of Supreme Court intervention for just one site (on obviously different grounds and also prior to EIA notification amendment) and since news reports of CEC intervention also do not refer to the amended notification, I would be grateful if you could clarify the position so that full facts can be placed in High Court at the next hearing later this month. Thanking you,
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner
- Respondents in WP 8523/2003, for information (without enclosures)
- DDA Chairman, reiterating request for inquiry as per judgment of 16.09.02 in WP 4978/2002