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Consider environmental impact before approving Nauroji Nagar plan, NDMC urged

Prominent environmentalists have written to the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to assess the green impact before sanctioning the building plan for Nauroji Nagar commercial complex.

The project is part of the Union government’s ambitious project to redevelop seven government residential neighbourhoods in south Delhi. As per the plan, a state-of-the-art commercial complex, spread over 25 acres, will come up in Nauroji Nagar. It will have 10-storeyed towers with parking space for 8,000 vehicles. The government plans to develop office space, exhibition halls, banquet halls and food plazas at the proposed complex.

The commercial hub will be linked to the nearby residential government colonies, which are being redeveloped. The project is being executed by NBCC India.

With the Delhi high court vacating the stay on the construction in Nauroji Nagar, NBCC India is in the process of submitting all necessary approvals to the NDMC to get approval.

While the plan is yet to be sanctioned, experts point out that the Nauroji Nagar project can’t be considered a standalone project while giving approval. The letter has been written by environmentalists and civil society members Kanchi Kohli, Bhavreen Kandhari, Manju Menon and Meenakshi Nath.

In the letter to NDMC chairman Dharmendra, they said, “The various issues that need to be looked into are water availability, use of public streets for traffic, generation and disposal of solid waste, increase in air pollution due to construction activity, loss of over 14,000 trees and increase in health hazards and many other related matters that are important to the well-being of Delhi-NCR…. Nauroji Nagar cannot be considered a standalone construction project in any approval process.”

When contacted, a senior NDMC official said, “There were a few deficiencies in the plan that they (NBCC) had submitted. We have asked them to rectify it.”

NBCC India has been asked to take submit approvals from various government bodies such as the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) on traffic related matters; the Delhi Urban Art Commission on aesthetic matters, and the requisite approvals from the fire and forest departments.

“Once they submit all these permissions, the project will be put before the council meeting for approval. So far, they have not submitted any of these approvals,” the official said.

According to NBCC India, all statutory approvals from fire department, the pollution control board and the forest department, among other, for the Nauroji Nagar redevelopment project have been obtained.

“Regarding the UTTIPEC clearance, a comprehensive proposal covering all development colonies in the vicinity, including AIIMS, has been prepared and cleared by the core committee and working committee of the UTTIPEC and is being put before the governing body of UTTIPEC,” a senior NBCC India official, on condition of anonymity, said.

Environmentalist Kandhari said the Nauroji Nagar project is part of seven general pool residential accommodation (GPRA) projects proposed and the NDMC should assess the impact of all these redevelopment colonies together before granting a final approval. “It is necessary to ascertain the total impact of these projects to prevent the burden of such impact being passed on to the people of Delhi,” she said.

Stressing on the need for a detailed traffic assessment, she said these colonies are in areas that are already congested. “The projects are located near two major hospitals (AIIMS and Safdarjung). The construction of commercial infrastructure and increase in traffic can disrupt access to these hospitals,” she said.

While vacating the stay, the high court bench had said, “We see no violation of the master plan and are of the view that the environmental clearances have been correctly given for the Nauroji Nagar project. Since NDMC is still seized of the matter, we may only observe that while granting the final sanction, the concerns of the petitioner be taken into account.”

Kohli said the environmental aspects of Nauroji Nagar and the other six GPRA colonies need to be addressed on merit. “The court did not assess or adjudicate on issues such as water, traffic, biodiversity, ecology or air pollution. On the contrary, the judgment has recorded that all environmental concerns are significant and the NDMC should consider it while approving the project.”

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