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April 18, 2013

DDA plays last card for depot, Issues Notice Seeking Public’s Views On Changing Land Use

New Delhi: Two-and-ahalf years after inaugurating it, Delhi Development Authority on Wednesday finally declared its intention to change the land use of the Millennium bus depot from ‘river and water body’ to ‘transportation’. It issued a public notice asking for comments and objections, a month after the high court-set deadline to take a call on land use expired. 
    On September 13, 2012, the court had asked DDA to “take steps for the change in the Master Plan, if it is possible, thereby changing the land use and bringing it in conformity with the present use…On the other hand, if attempt to amend the Master Plan fails, there would be no option but to re-locate the bus depot to some other place”. It had asked DDA to implement the order within six months, a deadline that ex
pired on March 13, 2013. 
    “The bus depot is located on an area of 61.59 acres and DDA plans to change the land use of 51.06 acres. We have no idea what it intends doing with the re
maining 10.53 acres. Its issuing a public notice on Wednesday is also clearly illegal as the statutory time period available to it is long past,” said Manoj Mishra, convener of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan. 
    The depot was built to park 1,000 buses during the 2010 CWG. Several documents, including letters by the LG, show the structure was temporary in nature and was to have been demolished after the Games since it was located in zone ‘O’ that includes the flood plain. The Shunglu Committee, set up to look into the irregularities of the Commonwealth Games, had said that the government had always intended the depot to be a permanent structure. 
    “The court had once directed DSIIDC to create a compensatory 4-acre water body in Bawana after it constructed a common effluent treatment plant in the Naraina Lake. So it is not difficult to convert a water body into land or vice versa. These are grey areas with no significant precedents,” said Manu Bhatnagar, head of INTACH’s natural heritage division.

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