Ridge Area Acts As Lungs, Supplies Oxygen to Citizens in Delhi: SC

Delhi Ridge acts as a lung which supplies oxygen to city residents, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday while directing the Delhi Development Authority not to allot any land in areas considered to be notified as protected area.

The court noted that there has been some difficulty in identifying the areas of ridge which are not notified but also have same ridge-like features.

A bench of Justice B R Gavai and Justice Vikram Nath directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to form a committee consisting of a senior officer of the MoEF not below the rank of joint secretary, one representative each of the Delhi Forest Department, Geological Survey of India and DDA, and a nominee of the Ridge Management Board to work out modalities for identifying such areas which need to be protected as a notified ridge.

The MoEF officer shall be the chairman and convener of the committee which shall submit its preliminary report before the court on March 15, it said.

“It cannot be doubted that the ridge in Delhi acts as a lung which supplies oxygen to the citizens of Delhi. This court vide order dated… has observed that not only the notified ridge, but the other areas which also have morphological ridges should be protected and no construction should be permitted there on.

“It appears that there has been some difficulty in identifying the areas of ridge which are not notified but also has same features,” the bench said.

It added, “We further direct that until further orders, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) shall not allot any land in the areas which are under consideration for notified as a protected area.”

The apex court’s order came while allowing an application of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Ministry of Finance, seeking permission for diversion of 6,200 square metres of morphological ridge area for construction of office building for DRI headquarters in Vasant Kunj. The plot of land was allotted to DRI by DDA.

The court noted that the Supreme Court-constituted panel, Central Empowered Committee (CEC), filed its report in which it has recommended permitting DRI to construct the headquarters at the site concerned subject to certain conditions.

“We are inclined to allow the application filed by DRI,” the bench said while noting that the CEC has no objection in construction of the office.

Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh, appearing for DRI, submitted that the CEC has imposed a condition on it to plant 500 trees and his instructions are that they were ready to plant 1,000 trees.

The bench said the DRI and the DDA shall scrupulously comply with the conditions mentioned in the CEC report.

It also set aside the condition imposed on DDA of depositing 5 per cent of total project cost.

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