Environmentalists will make a fresh attempt to save the ecologically sensitive marshes — a mix of wetland and grassland — in north Delhi’s Jahangirpuri from what they term “a concrete onslaught”.As part of its ongoing review of the Capital’s master plan, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) will on Friday listen to the objections to its proposed residential project at Dheerpur near Jahangirpuri.
The DDA has issued a public notice for change in land use of the 19.33 acres from ‘recreational’ (16.63 acres) and ‘river and water body’ (2.70 acres) to ‘residential’ to build houses for Delhi Police personnel. Environmentalists have been saying that the site is actually part of Jahangirpuri marshes.
When HT visited the site it was apparent that the marshes had shrunk a lot due to gradual, but relentless, dumping of fly ash and construction debris. In one of their reports, Asit Nema of Foundation for Greentech Environmental Systems and Dr Lalit Agrawal of Tokyo Engineering Consultants have put the Jahangirpuri marsh area at 300 hectares. But according to the Master Plan, marshes exist only in 74 hectares.
“There has been a systemic encroachment of marshes. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which is building its network near Jahangirpuri, has admitted on record that before the area was allotted to them, it had been filled with fly ash by local authorities,” said Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan. “We will present our case with help from Google earth images and expert reports,” he added.
Nema and Agrawal had said the marsh area should be developed into a sustainable wetland. “This site can provide sewage treatment facility, recharge groundwater and attract migratory birds,” they had said.
“The government is committed to protecting the marshes. We will encourage plantation in the area after the Metro construction is over,” said a Delhi environment department official. “Our project is away from wild vegetation growth of Jahangirpuri marshes. The area where we are carrying out construction is not a marshland but a barren land of insignificant ecological importance,” said a DMRC official.
“The area looks insignificant to some as the marsh has shrunk due to its systematic conversion,” said Mishra.