Its plan to build a commercial complex on the lines of south Delhi's Dilli Haat by covering a large part of a stormwater drain in Mayur Vihar phase I is environmentally unviable, experts and activists have told the Delhi government.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) wants to convert the land use of a part of this drain from utility to commercial and hand it over to the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation on lease. An inspection of DDA files has revealed that the plan is to cover an area of 600 x 45 metres and build shops and eateries.
Manu Bhatnagar of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has told the DDA that the project will reduce recharge to the extent of six million litres of storm water every monsoon - an amount, he said, that cannot be compensated by any water harvesting system.
"High-density east Delhi is already short of green cover and open spaces as compared to other parts of the city. Such drains mean plantation on their side. The destruction of environmental assets is irreversible," he told HT.
Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has requested Delhi's Lt Governor to not allow the project.
"The drain is a greenway. Why destroy it? The project needs tree felling. Why cut trees to cover a space where massive compensatory plantation can take place for which there's hardly any land left in the city," he said.
"The project is being planned when the L-G office and the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC), the apex planning body, have more than once ordered that drains in the city should not be covered. Moreover, the DDA had in 2005 allotted 1.2 hectares of land in Geeta Colony, also in east Delhi, to the DTTDC for the same purpose but the land has remained unutilised," Misra added.
"Stormwater drains collect and safely carry high rainfall during floods and are key groundwater recharge zones. They are part of the city's open space network," said a UTTIPEC expert.