Remove 221 spots from city wetlands list, authority told
Of the requests, 215 locations come under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the other six belong to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).
Delhi’s State Wetland Authority (SWA) has received requests from land-owning agencies to “remove” as many as 221 water bodies from the official list of 1,043 water bodies identified and geo-tagged by the Delhi government over the last two years, citing ongoing development work or existing finished structures at the spot where the water bodies once stood. Of the requests, 215 locations come under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the other six belong to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).
Delhi lieutenant governor (LG) Anil Baijal has taken strong objection to removal of certain bodies, said officials, adding that he held a review meeting with members of various government departments, experts and SWA officials on Thursday. An expert committee, comprising of at least two wetland experts, is now likely to review the status of these water bodies, officials said.
Data shared by SWA with the LG during the meeting showed among the 221 spots, 62 water bodies currently have a building at the site; 52 are now being used to provide public services; 14 have educational institutes; and 11 sites have been turned into parks and recreational centres.
Another 37 water bodies are also non-traceable at the moment, owing to inadequate data on its geo-coordinates or Khasra numbers (block numbers), showed data shared by the SWA.
A senior government official present in the meeting said the LG took a serious view of the proposed deletion of water bodies from the list.
“He directed government officials to form a committee, which should include at least two subject experts, to look into the matter... The water bodies will be deleted from the list if the committee finds that it is not feasible to revive it.”
A senior official, requesting anonymity, said, “All agencies have also been directed not to shrink the size of the water bodies while reviving it. No concrete structures, including pavements, should be built around it.”
An SWA official said efforts will be made to keep and revive as many water bodies as possible. “The expert committee will look for a solution and only if they recommend, will the water body be removed,” the official said.
A senior DDA official said many “water bodies” can’t be revived. “...there are a lot of cases where there is a private or government building constructed on it... We did a joint inspection with Delhi government officials while taking over the water bodies. Then we found that there was duplication. Therefore, we have requested for the list to be revised,” said the official.
Professor CR Babu, head of the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, who was part of the meeting with the LG on Thursday and is likely to be a part of the expert committee to review the requests, said, “We will study the site and see whether there is suitable catchment area and if the soil is able to hold water. Then water bodies can be created next to these buildings currently standing in the area. We will try our best to not remove any water body.”