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Monday, September 21, 2020

Explained: What is the ‘green-blue’ policy proposed by Delhi Master Plan 2041?

It is an urban planning concept which sees water bodies and land as being interdependent, and symbiotic, while offering environmental and social benefits

Written by Abhinav Rajput , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 8, 2020 4:16:29 pm
Focus on water bodies and the land around it, which is referred to as the “Green-Blue policy”, promises to give the city a new shape. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is holding public consultations for the preparation of the Master Plan for Delhi 2041, a vision document for the city’s development over the next two decades.

The existing Master Plan 2021 will be outdated next year, and the agency wants to notify the new plan by the time that happens.

There are several features in the draft policy but the focus on water bodies and the land around it, which is referred to as the “Green-Blue policy”, promises to give the city a new shape.

What is Green-Blue infrastructure?

‘Blue’ infrastructure refers to water bodies like rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands, floodplains, and water treatment facilities; while ‘Green’ stands for trees, lawns, hedgerows, parks, fields, and forests.

The concept refers to urban planning where water bodies and land are interdependent, and grow with the help of each other while offering environmental and social benefits.

How does DDA plan to go ahead with it?

In the first stage, the DDA plans to deal with the multiplicity of agencies, which because of the special nature of the state, has plagued it for several years.

DDA wants first map out the issues of jurisdiction, work being done by different agencies on drains, and the areas around them. Thereafter, a comprehensive policy will be drawn up, which would then act as the common direction for all agencies.

Delhi has around 50 big drains (blue areas) managed by different agencies, and due to their poor condition and encroachment, the land around (green areas) has also been affected.

DDA, along with other agencies, will integrate them and remove all sources of pollution by checking the outfall of untreated wastewater as well as removal of existing pollutants. A mix of mechanised and natural systems may be adopted, and dumping of solid wastes in any of these sites will be strictly prohibited by local bodies, through the imposition of penalties.

What will the areas look like after redevelopment?

Land around these drains, carrying stormwater, will be declared as special buffer projects. A network of connected green spaces would be developed in the form of green mobility circuits of pedestrian and cycling paths. “It will be developed along the drains to serve functional as well as leisure trips,” a senior DDA official said.

There is also a plan to develop spaces for yoga, active sports (without formal seating), open air exhibitions, museums and information centres, open air theatres, cycling and walking facilities, arboretums, greenhouses, community vegetable gardens, facilities for boating, restaurants, and other low impact public uses that may be encouraged as part of special projects.

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The nature of use, extent of public access, type of vegetation, suitability for developing water bodies, etc. shall be ascertained on a case-to-case basis through scientific assessments, the DDA official said. Thereafter, real estate would be developed along these integrated corridors, he said.

What are the challenges?

The biggest challenge here is the multiplicity of agencies. DDA wants to bring together different agencies like Delhi Jal Board, Flood and Irrigation Department, and municipal corporations as stakeholders in the project. In a city where even waterlogging turns into a blame game between different warring agencies, this will be a tough task, especially as DDA has no supervisory power over these bodies.

Secondly, cleaning of water bodies and drains has been a challenge for agencies in Delhi for years now. A report by researchers of IIT-Delhi on 20 major sewer drains and five prominent sites on the River Yamuna found abundant presence of coliform and other pollutants. Only rainwater is supposed to flow in these drains, but the study found sewage waste and even industrial waste in some.

A similar attempt made by DDA earlier, where a special task force was created to check dumping of waste in Yamuna, has not been successful.

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