Draft Master Plan lists measures to save ‘green and blue’ assets

Updated on Jun 10, 2021 02:50 AM IST

The draft of the plan document, prepared by the Delhi Development Authority, was put in the public domain on Wednesday for suggestions. Once approved, the plan will provide policy framework for the development of the city till 2041.

This time, environmental degradation and mitigating strategies have been put in focus since Delhi has to face alarming levels of air pollution specially in winters each year because of a combination of local, external and weather factors.
This time, environmental degradation and mitigating strategies have been put in focus since Delhi has to face alarming levels of air pollution specially in winters each year because of a combination of local, external and weather factors.
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The draft Master Plan of Delhi-2041 envisages building a sustainable infrastructure that will help the national capital curb local sources of pollution such as dust from construction sites and vehicular emissions, as well as redeveloping the city’s ‘green and blue’ assets, referring to the city’s forest and green cover and its water bodies.

The draft of the plan document, prepared by the Delhi Development Authority, was put in the public domain on Wednesday for suggestions. Once approved, the plan will provide policy framework for the development of the city till 2041.

This time, environmental degradation and mitigating strategies have been put in focus since Delhi has to face alarming levels of air pollution specially in winters each year because of a combination of local, external and weather factors.


Besides redevelopment and protection of both forest and green cover as well as the Yamuna and other water bodies, the draft plan envisages building infrastructure in a way that connects people with their natural heritage.

“The aim is to provide a comprehensive framework to treat green and blue assets (natural and planned) as green-blue infrastructure to facilitate better continuum and strategies for tackling pollution, for protection and enhancement of natural assets with a public interface, to build new city-level assets such as greenways along natural drains, repurposing underutilised sites and wastelands as green-blue assets, and greening of plots and buildings and introduction to green-blue Factor (GBF) for plan approval,” the draft read.

The green-blue plan suggests that to protect the depleting number of trees in Delhi, a tree directory will be prepared by all agencies concerned in their respective areas. The agencies will be tasked with identifying unique tree corridors or precincts, heritage trees, precincts with high carbon storage and sequestration rates, etc. Such trees or tree clusters shall be protected and controlled in terms of planting of indigenous trees and integrated with cultural trails or nature trails.

Considering that Delhi is yet to have a tree census, such an initiative is likely to help agencies keep an exact count of the number, location, type and age of the trees in their jurisdiction. This will also help authorities keep track of instances of illegal tree felling.

To preserve and improve the conditions of water bodies and their floodplains, the draft plan proposes natural resources to be marked as ‘areas under environmental protection’. These areas will be marked by delineated boundaries and a separate database will be created to monitor their protection and maintenance. Also, it was proposed to restrict development near and on such sites.

Saying “Delhi’s history and cultural ethos is closely linked with the Yamuna”, the draft plan lists special initiatives for the rejuvenation of the river and its floodplains. These measures include 300-metre green buffer along the entire edge of the river, developing cycling and walking trails along the embankments, restricting all permanent construction on the floodplain and identifying specific spots for cultural and agricultural activities.

Emphasising that curbing air and water pollution in the city will require efforts by several states, the draft plan says that all member NCR states and respective pollution control boards need to follow the regulations and standards laid down by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

In order to control dust, which is the main contributor of particulate matter pollutants in the city’s air, the draft plan proposes that all development projects must follow dust mitigation measures in handling construction material and construction and demolition waste. “A dust management plan will be submitted as per CPCB or any other guidelines. Construction sites shall be monitored regularly by the local bodies to ascertain the implementation,” the draft plan read.

Government data quoted in by the DDA stated that local PM2.5 (ultrafine particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) pollution is 26% during summers and 36% during winter.

It also underlined the importance of checking pollution of surface water bodies and ground water to be addressed on priority. The draft plan calls for comprehensive strategies for preserving and enhancing streams, drains, lakes and wetlands, ponds and baolis.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said the DDA has ensured that there is a multi-sectoral understanding of the environmental crisis that Delhi is facing. However, she said, the master plan could be pushed further by setting tighter deadlines for managing polluting sectors to ensure early and efficient results.

“What needs to be appreciated is that environment is not seen as a stand-alone category, each segment of the document, such as transport, industries, water management, links to the overall environmental issue. Finally, we are also recognising separately the various factors that contribute to pollution, and this will help us tackle this problem better,” Roychowdhury said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Soumya Pillai covers environment and traffic in Delhi. A journalist for three years, she has grown up in and with Delhi, which is often reflected in the stories she does about life in the city. She also enjoys writing on social innovations.

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