HC demands report on ‘status’ of water bodies from govt

The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Delhi government demanding the status of the marsh areas of Jahangirpuri in North Delhi and the Mayapuri Lake.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published:February 19, 2009 12:19 am

The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Delhi government demanding the status of the marsh areas of Jahangirpuri in North Delhi and the Mayapuri Lake.

The order follows a public interest litigation that was filed in the court by an NGO last week for the protection of the water bodies,which,the petition claims,are now under threat after the administration altered their ‘land use’.

The 4.5 acre Mayapuri Lake is owned by the Public Works Department (PWD). The agency had earlier given Rs 1.5 crore to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to remove encroachments around the lake.

The Jahangirpuri marshland in North Delhi,on the other hand,was allotted to the Delhi Jal Board some 20 years ago. “With changes in land use,some of the area was later sold to the PWD and the Delhi Police,” a DJB official said.

“The revenue department records never accounted Jahangirpuri as a water body. It has been defined as a ‘banjar kadim’ (land not fit for cultivation). The 2021 Master Plan of Delhi also categorises the land’s use as ‘residential’. It was thus decided that over 100 acres of the land can be used for constructing a proposed housing colony of the PWD and the police department in North Delhi,” said a Delhi government official.

But environmentalists say this is against the High Court orders.

“This goes against the affidavits submitted by various land-owning agencies upon orders given by the Delhi High Court April 4,2002,for reviving the various water bodies in Delhi,” said environmentalist V K Jain of NGO Tapas.

The court had passed orders after hearing a public interest litigation filed by Jain in 2000 urging the protection and augmentation of Delhi’s groundwater resources. Last week,Jain filed another application in the court,following which the notices have been sent.

“Jahangirpuri was earlier notified as marshland in the court by the PWD. So was the Mayapuri Lake. Also,as per the International Ramsar Convention,in which India is a signatory nation,marshlands or wetlands should be protected as a water body. Even though the Master Plan Delhi 2021 makes a certain change in land use,it cannot be acceptable in court,” Jain said.

The court has now directed the government to submit a report on these two water recharge structures according to the revenue department records.

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