Resistance to the opening of a mega mall in Alaknanda (near Greater Kailash-II) gained momentum as representatives of 20 RWAs met a Delhi Development Authority (DDA) panel on August 5. The committee was appointed by the Delhi high court last month to reconsider the approval granted by the agency for the construction of a mall on a 7.3 lakh square feet (sqf) plot between Kalka Public School and a petrol pump in Alaknanda. The residents represented Greater Kailash-II, Masjid Moth, Chittaranjan Park and Alaknanda.
In 2007, DDA had sold 3.6 acres of land to a private developer for Rs 304 crores on a freehold basis. A plot measuring 15,000 square metre (approx) was allocated for the construction of the mall. However, residents claim that the land was originally earmarked to set up community facilities. They approached DDA officials but it didn’t bring any results.
Finally, the Citizen Alliance, an organisation from the area, took the matter to court. In 2013, the organisation filed a petition in Delhi high court against the DDA’s sanctioning of the plan. On July 13, 2016, the court directed DDA to form a two-member panel comprising the commissioner (planning) and the commissioner for land disposal to take the opinion of all stakeholders and address the pleas of the petitioner within eight weeks.
Later, the RWA members from the affected areas came out in large numbers and made a representation before the committee. “This is a residential space and construction of a mall will lead to traffic chaos. Visitors will access the mall via colonies like CR Park and GK-II and this would lead to traffic mess,” said Ashutosh Dikshit, president of Citizens Alliance.
Residents said that a large mall in the middle of an old residential area is an example of flawed planning. To intensify their movement against the construction, the RWAs of Alaknanda, CR Park and GK-II have also placed hoardings outside their colonies saying ‘No to Alaknanda Mega Mall’.
Ashok Puri, president of GK-II RWA, said the project has been approved without thinking about the repercussions in future.
Meena Gangahar, a GK-II resident, said, “We are worried that the development will change the character of the colony. It will lead to traffic jams, parking issues, pollution, crime, water and sewage problems and disrupt emergency health services.”
Ashish Dutta, secretary of East Bengal Displaced Association (EBDP), said the construction of the mall, touted as the second largest in Delhi, has worried residents. As it will be developed in the middle of a residential area, it will lead to major traffic problems.
“There are 16 schools in the area. During peak hours, the area is chock-a-block and inaccessible. The situation will worsen if the mall opens,” he said.
Vivek Sharma, general secretary of NRI Complex RWA and Citizen Alliance, claimed the project has been taken up in violation of the Master Plan of Delhi, 2021. He said, “The place was originally earmarked for community facilities and not for constructing a mall. As per the Master Plan 2021, a mall needs a minimum space of 40 hectares and can be constructed in district centre, city centre or a metropolitan centre.”
He said in case of change of land use, ideally the DDA should invite objections and opinions from all stakeholders including the RWAs, but that hasn’t happened. He claims to have gathered the facts through RTIs filed with DDA and Delhi Urban Art Commission, the agency that approved the project.
On the other hand, a senior DDA official said, “We met the RWA members and the points highlighted by them were discussed in detail. But we are yet to receive the opinion from other stakeholders including the Delhi Fire Services. Only after that we will submit a report to the high court. Nothing has been finalised yet.”
Despite HT’s repeated request, Reliance Retail (the developer) didn’t offer any response.