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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Delhi-Alwar RRTS project in public interest: SC panel report

Recommends to apex court to permit construction of a stretch of the proposed corridor under Aravali Biodiversity Park in Vasant Kunj and extended ridge area as it does not involve felling of trees

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: August 1, 2021 8:19:53 am
According to the Central Empowered Committee’s (CEC) report, which was finalised on Friday, a 3.6-km stretch of the corridor is supposed to pass below the extended or ‘morphological’ ridge in South Delhi. (Representational Photo)

A Supreme Court-appointed committee has recommended to the apex court to permit construction of a stretch of the proposed Delhi-Alwar high speed rail corridor under the Aravali Biodiversity Park and the extended ridge area, observing that the project is in “public interest” and does not involve felling of trees.

According to the Central Empowered Committee’s (CEC) report, which was finalised on Friday, a 3.6-km stretch of the corridor is supposed to pass below the extended or ‘morphological’ ridge in South Delhi. While ridge areas are classified as notified forests, extended ridge areas bear characteristics of the ridge, but are not notified forests.

The ridge areas, which are essentially extensions of the Aravali ranges and extend over 7,000 hectares in Delhi, are considered the lungs of the capital. Agencies are not allowed to carry out constriction in ridge as well as extended ridge areas without permission from the Ridge Management Board (RRB) and the SC via the CEC.

The National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is constructing the regional rapid transit system (RRTS) corridor, had earlier obtained permission for the project from the RRB. According to the CEC report, 1.7-km of the 3.6-km stretch under consideration will pass below the Aravali Biodiversity Park near Vasant Kunj.

The committee observed that the project is in public interest and since the proposed rail corridor will run 20 metres below the ground, trees will not have to be cut. “The project on implementation is expected to improve the air quality in Delhi/NCR. The share of public transport is expected to increase. Road traffic congestion is expected to ease with better transport network and the project is expected to address regional connectivity issues and develop an efficient multimodal transport system connecting Delhi-NCR with road, rail and air,” the report states.

The Delhi-Alwar 164-km rapid rail corridor, which will be a mix of elevated tracks and tunnels, is slated to be implemented in three phases. The corridor, once complete, is expected to reduce travel time between these places to 117 minutes – a little less than two hours.

In the first phase, work has been taken up to complete the Delhi-Behror 106-km stretch. The RRTS will have its Delhi base at Sarai Kale Khan, and will connect Munirka, Aerocity and move via Gurugram, Sotanala, and Rewari to reach Alwar in Rajasthan covering 22 stations.

The openings of the tunnel will be located at either ends of the extended ridge, “therefore, there will be no construction on the surface in the Morphological Ridge area,” said the CEC.

The report was prepared following a meeting with officials of NCRTC, Aravali Biodiversity Park, the Delhi Forest Department, and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on July 15 and a site visit on July 22.

The other RRTS projects being built by the NCRTC, which is a joint venture company of the Union government and Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, are the 82-km-long Delhi-Meerut and 103-km-long Delhi-Panipat corridors.

The committee is separately examining a plea to restrain the Delhi Metro from felling 11,545 trees in the city for its Phase IV expansion project.

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