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Civic bodies stop taking event bookings for parks after NGT prohibits it citing environment loss

All three municipal corporations of Delhi have stopped taking event bookings for parks, including the Ramlila Ground, in the wake of a recent order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) citing environment loss to parks due to the holding of mass public functions such as cultural and religious events, weddings and political rallies
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 11:44 PM IST

All three municipal corporations of Delhi have stopped taking event bookings for parks, including the Ramlila Ground, in the wake of a recent order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) citing environment loss to parks due to the holding of mass public functions such as cultural and religious events, weddings and political rallies.

Civic authorities said they are exploring possibilities to “challenge” the order.

The Ramlila Ground is a popular venue where major political rallies and religious programmes are organised. It is the ground where social activist Anna Hazare started the India Against Corruption movement in 2011.

The NGT earlier this month had directed civic bodies to strictly enforce orders prohibiting weddings, cultural, commercial and other functions at parks. The order was issued while hearing an application that said wedding functions being held in west Delhi’s Vikas Puri Dussehra ground were flouting environment norms.

According to civic officials, the bookings for parks and grounds are one of the important revenue sources of civic bodies and the move would adversely affect revenue generation of cash-strapped municipalities.

Civic authorities projected a cumulative loss of around 3.5 crore a year to the three corporations.

Municipal officials said prior to that order, as many as 129 parks and grounds across the three municipal bodies used to be booked for religious, cultural and political events throughout the year.

Jai Prakash, mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, said there are nearly 47 parks and grounds, including the Ramlila Ground, under its jurisdiction where public and cultural functions used to be organised, generating revenue for the civic body. The NGT order has put paid to bookings this month, he said.

“This decision is going to adversely impact our revenue generation. We are eying a loss of around 1 crore to 1.2 crore a year. We are examining the NGT order and are taking legal advice on whether it can be challenged,” Prakash said.

He has also directed the chief legal officer of the civic body to check if Ramlila Ground can be kept open for bookings as, being a ground, it does not fall under the category of “parks”.

Similarly, bookings have been stopped at the 64 parks of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and 18 parks of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).

Narendra Chawla, leader of the house in SDMC, said before granting permission to anyone to hold functions or events in SDMC parks, the civic body takes an undertaking from the applicant that the ecology of the park is not be disturbed, apart from which a maintenance charge is also realised from the applicant. “We always ensure that there is no permanent digging in the park and no garbage is left behind. There might have been violations in one or two cases, but imposing a blanket ban on all events at parks is not right. With this decision, we are going to witness a loss of at least 1.5 crore annually. We are exploring options on whether the order can be challenged,” Chawla said.

Nirmal Jain, mayor, EDMC, said, “The civic body is already facing an acute financial crunch and this order will further limit our revenue generation resources. We are looking at a loss of at least 80 lakh annually if parks are not leased out for events.”

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