According to Delhi Newsline, the Delhi High Court on March 21 stayed construction on the biodiversity park in Vasant Kunj based on a PIL stating that the area was part of the Ridge and was to be preserved in its “pristine glory”.
The High Court also issued notices to the DDA, Ministry of Urban Development and Delhi government asking why the 223-hectare area, which is adjacent to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), had not been notified as part of the Ridge till date despite several committees directing that it be declared and protected as part of the Ridge.
The petition filed by Vinod Kumar Jain alleged that the “… DDA, which is in possession of the land”… plans to develop a safari park, picnic huts and refreshment areas in the park. Such “non-forest” activity would destroy the character of the Ridge, the petition says.
Submitting photographs of the ongoing construction in the park, the petitioner said this would destroy the natural flora and fauna of the Ridge.
Newsline had reported on February 6 that the Masterplan 2021 failed to notify the area as part of the Ridge despite findings by the expert committee that the area was “geomorphologically and topographically” a part of the Ridge.
The Central Empowered Committee appointed by the Supreme Court had reiterated an earlier Loveraj Committee report which said: “This is part of the Ridge and should be provided maximum possible legal protection,” it is the “green lung of the city”, and a “groundwater recharge area”. The CEC had also recommended that the DDA should immediately notify the area as a reserve forest.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had held the Delhi government and DDA responsible for not notifying this area as a reserve forest. The area has been singled out by the Central Groundwater Authority as a valuable source of groundwater recharge.
The DDA has, in the past, intended to build a hotel complex in the area, but subsequently withdrew its proposal.