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Monday, June 21, 2021

DDA Master Plan: Emphasis on increasing interaction with Yamuna, green zones

While the Yamuna flows from the northern part of the city through east and southeast into Uttar Pradesh, it can barely be called a river by the time it exits, with hardly any fresh water flowing in it.

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi |
Updated: June 10, 2021 8:12:19 am
Labourers cross the Yamuna river to reach the construction site of the metro bridge in New Delhi on Monday. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The Delhi Development Authority’s draft Master Plan 2041 has laid special emphasis on green belt development and increasing people’s interaction with the city’s “green and blue assets”.

While the Yamuna flows from the northern part of the city through east and southeast into Uttar Pradesh, it can barely be called a river by the time it exits, with hardly any fresh water flowing in it.

The draft lays down a clear boundary of the buffer zone near the river and how to develop it.

“A 300 m wide green buffer wherever feasible shall be maintained along the entire edge of the river. Wild grassing or other suitable ground-cover vegetation shall be planted for 25-30 m from the river edge, and trees may be planted beyond this grass belt,” it states.

While cleaning the river and reviving dying water bodies forms one of the key parts of the draft plan, DDA is looking to create green mobility corridors for use as pedestrian walkways and cycle tracks along stormwater drains in the city.

Delhi has a network of several stormwater drains, which are supposed to take overflowing rainwater to the river, but they often carry sewage and industrial waste. Of these, 18 are major drains.

“Concerned agencies shall take up creation of green mobility corridors for creating a city-wide network of green-blue assets connected through pedestrian and cycling paths developed along the drains. The water in the drains shall be cleaned and no outflow of sewage or wastewater will be permitted. In-situ treatment for improving the water quality to be adopted,” the draft says.

It also makes provisions for natural green buffers around the river and the drains to make them hubs of public use for recreation only.

“The natural green buffers may be developed as wetlands and marshes for water-based ecologies, through bio-drainage, etc., groundwater recharge points or as sponges for flood water. At places where buffers are wide, they may be designed for active public use in the form of parks, spaces for yoga, active sports (without formal seating), open air exhibitions, performances and arboretums, community gardens, boating, restaurants, etc. Heritage trails may be integrated with the green mobility corridors,” the draft says.

The draft, however, makes it clear that public access will not be allowed in ecologically significant or sensitive features or areas such as rocky outcrops, water bodies and nesting areas.

“Specific areas and trails shall be identified as ‘interactive zones’. Temporary activities such as active/passive recreation, exercise/yoga, nature classes, environmental research, picnics, camping, biodiversity tours, etc., shall be permitted within these areas. Amenities like toilets, drinking water fountains, resting places, visitor information centres, etc, shall be provided wherever required/feasible,” it says.

The plan also says that sites such as closed landfills, ash dykes in closed thermal power plants, abandoned quarries and mines which have issues of toxicity and unstable nature of soil can be converted into biodiversity parks, eco-parks and water bodies.

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