NHRC asks for report on housing scheme
An ambitious project to redevelop seven residential colonies in south Delhi has drawn the attention of the National Human Rights Commission.
Justice H L Dattu, the chairman of the commission recently sought a report from the Centre and National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) wanting to know if the spree of construction activity will cause high levels of pollution to residents and violate their human rights.
Justice Dattu took a grim view of allegations by a former MP that construction in south Delhi by the NBCC is causing pollution in government residential areas, posing a threat to life.
During his tenure as the Chief Justice of India, Dattu had cracked the whip on toxic trucks entering Delhi and leaving a trail of polluting fumes. “My grandson has to wear a mask when he leaves the house. He looks like a Ninja,” the then CJI had declared in open court expressing concern over alarming levels of pollution in the capital.
Alka Kshatriya, a former parliamentarian, in her letter to the NHRC, reminded Justice Dattu about the high levels of pollution in areas where frenetic pace of construction is expected for redevelopment of the seven colonies.
She underlined that the Ring Road from Dhaula Kuan to Ashram is totally polluted due to the non-stop movement of vehicles, leaving PM 2.5 levels hovering between 792-1000.
The letter further raised apprehension that at least 2.38 lakh trees would have to be razed to make way for high-rise towers as part of the government’s plan to ease the problem of shortage of government accommodation in the capital.
However, it would turn the entire stretch from Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri and Mohammadpur into a “gas chamber”, Kshatriya warned in her complaint to NHRC, seeking its intervention.
As per the cabinet, the plan envisages rebuilding seven housing colonies to double the existing housing units from 12,970 units to 25,667 at a total cost of Rs 32,835 crores.
The project will also develop government office accommodation for nearly 2.42 lakh sqm at Netaji Nagar. The total estimated project cost of Rs 32,835 crores includes maintenance and operation costs for 30 years and will be completed in five years in a phased manner, the government has claimed. It will be implemented on self-financing basis by sale of commercial built-up area in Nauroji Nagar and parts of Sarojini Nagar, adjoining the Ring Road.
The urban development ministry had moved the proposal to redevelop existing old dilapidated housing colonies to augment the housing stock under the Delhi Master Plan, using modern construction technology with green building norms.
Last year, a former Union minister had also questioned the demolition of seven government residential colonies in south Delhi alleging that over 1.86 lakh trees would be destroyed in the process, leading the NGT to seek the views of the Centre and other parties on the matter.
In his plea, Raghunath Jha had alleged that “redevelopment of these colonies will demolish such 1,86,378 trees and plants which will be the major cause of global warming in India. NBCC’s argument of cultivation of double of destructed trees is false as it will take another 40-50 years for the trees to grow.”