The Centre has asked the Delhi government to relocate, at the earliest, the Millennium Bus Depot raised illegally on 51 acres of the Yamuna floodplains abutting Ring Road and National Highway 24.
The Centre has also rejected a move by the Delhi Development Authority to change the land use of the land from “river and water body” to “transportation” to legitimise the structure.
The Delhi Transport Corporation depot was supposed to be a temporary structure only during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. While the sporting event got over in 15 days, the depot remained, causing the floodplains to shrink.
Environmentalists say relocation of the depot is critical because it is located within 100 metres from the Yamuna. Maintenance of buses means engine oil and other pollutants flow into the river. Concretisation of areas which serve as flood zones for rivers leads to flash floods.
The Delhi High Court had a year ago told the Delhi government and the DDA to change, if possible, the land use through laid-down procedures, including a public hearing in six months. Else, the depot was to be relocated.
The Union urban development ministry which owns the land has written several letters (copies with HT) between 2012 and 2013 to the Delhi government and demanded the land to be returned. On September 2, the ministry also rejected the DDA’s proposal to change the land use.
“The Delhi government has to follow the court order and relocate the depot,” said Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
The ministry has in its letters said it had only allowed the Delhi government in 1996 to use 101 acres of land for dumping of fly ash, but half of this land was used to set up a bus depot.