According to news reports of 06.08.04 Hon’ble Supreme Court has set up under you a committee for the river. This is firstly to request the committee to consider Delhi Master Plan (DMP) solutions for the riverbed as a starting point / yardstick for evaluating alternatives. Secondly, this is to request response to / consideration by Committee of prior representations in following related (also in courts) matters:
- Riverbed projects: Supreme Court has issued notice in PIL against Akshardham. Other riverbed projects in violation of DMP include Games Village (cf, objection of 07.06.02 against expense on foreign trip in view of s.23(2)), Delhi Secretariat (cf, objection of 11.06.04 to Builders award, also forwarded for appropriate action by President’s Secretariat), scheme mooted without jurisdiction by former Minister and adopted by DDA (cf, s.40(3) application of 05.07.04 for examining legality and propriety of DDA decision to participate in slum clearance for it), Metro Depot (responses to s.11A Public Notices of December 2002 and April 2004 for inconsistent DMP modifications). These projects amount to government encroachment on public land, making Pushta clearance grave violation of Article 14 and require a-priori view / clarification by the Committee.
- Slums: Pushta clearance was justified in high-level decision of 03.01.04 on basis of High Court order of 03.03.03 for clearing all riverbed encroachments in 2 months – unjustifiably so because slum policy was sub-judice in same matters, PIL between industries and government, in SLP, requiring start of compliance with non-slum encroachments (cf, representation of 07.03.03). Now, between Pushta clearance under previous and present government (starting 27.07.04, in breach of NCMP), MoUD appointed (26.06.04) a committee to make in two weeks a “slum-free master plan” (cf, s.40(3) application of 05.06.03 about DDA decision to participate in violation of DMP processes), yet to be made. Pushta clearance is contrary to DMP and frustrates judicial process underway in Supreme Court apropos slums as well as river and relies only on High Court orders and high-level decision of 03.01.04. With clearance restarting (27.07.04) and High Court seeking (03.08.04) compliance affidavits in two weeks, review of Pushta clearance, as decided upon in decision of 03.01.04 (cf, requests for same, including in a letter forwarded by President’s Secretariat) also requires a-priori view by the committee.
- Industries: The industries matter has been closely connected to the one on Yamuna in Supreme Court. News reports of 11.08.04 suggest plans for unlawful industrial closure in disregard of DMP and also that s.11A process for DMP modification has been again subverted (my response to s.11A Public Notice of 21.06.04 about household industries, inclusive of suggestion for public debate on government’s alternative plan for compliance to establish it is better than DMP solution, has not been heard or answered). Violation of DMP and its processes in compliance of an order based entirely on these is inexplicable and leaves only river pollution (not DMP) justification for industrial closure. This will arguably require irrefutable evidence not only of improvement in river pollution status but also of the same being impossible through compliance of court order for industries through DMP solutions for them rather than by their closure.
- Cattle: There were pictures of buffaloes in the brochure preferred in court in justification of Pushta clearance and in compliance of high court orders in PIL about stray cattle, dairies were shut and bovines auctioned in neighbouring states (much like non-polluting units being banished by orders in PIL about pollution) and High court was told on 04.08.04 that over 18000 of 22000 odd cows deported by its orders had died (like children evicted to Bawana) (cf, letter of 04.08.04). Even if it does not wish to go into equity and justice issues about evictions in the name of river pollution, for efficiency it would need to note that clearance of insignificant causes can not solve the river pollution problem. Also, key issue on the river is water, especially ground water, and cultivators and cattle being evicted in 2004 in name of the river have had a major role to play in historic agro traditions more apposite to ridge-river ecosystem than, say, touristy green schemes copied from some other pretty picture of some other ecosystem (cf, letters of May onwards about cultivators).
With Independence Day greetings,
Gita Dewan Verma | Planner