The southern ridge adjacent to Nelson Mandela Road in south Delhi has become an illegal dumping ground of malba (debris) since the last two years. The road comes under a posh locality near Vasant Kunj and Vasant Vihar, yet it has been subjected to environmental abuse recklessly. Fingers point to the Public Works Department and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation that have been dumping malba inside the boundaries of the forest area, depleting forest cover and harming the environment. Also, a substantial area of a protected biodiversity park in Vasant Kunj has been encroached upon and is being used as an unauthorized parking for taxis and private vehicles by visitors to a five-star hotel and several malls in the vicinity. Many illegal shops have also come up in the area.
The Delhi High Court, after taking suo moto cognizance of the matter, had appointed Sr. Advocate Kailash Vasdev as Amicus Curie in the case. The High Court vide its order dated 20 October, 2015 appointed Chetan Sanghi as the Nodal Officer and directed the Delhi’s Commissioner of Police to nominate officers to assist Sanghi for arresting further depletion of forest cover in the capital.
The High Court order observed that the moment a forest is declared as a wildlife sanctuary, the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 get triggered. In particular, provisions such as Sections 27, 28, 29 are attracted, which provide for restriction on entry in the sanctuary and grant of permits for entering the sanctuary for bona fide purposes, the prohibition of destruction of wild life etc.
Ironically, the PWD put up a board designating the site on Nelson Mandela Road as a dumping area after the High Court Order, directing all public and private bodies against dumping any sort of waste inside the protected areas.
Activist Anil Sood, president of the NGO Chetna, told The Sunday Guardian, “A side of the Nelson Mandela Road has been designated as ‘Site for Dumping Malba’. The malba has already crossed the fence of the forest area and has reached the roadside. Shrubs and small trees have sustained damage. Very soon the protective cover will disappear and the forest cover will start retreating. This is unacceptable.”
“We have filed at least 25 complaints to the Conservator of Forest, Delhi, in the last two years and have seen no action to stop the dumping or encroachment, let alone action against the people responsible. We have filed several more complaints to the PWD and those too have fallen to deaf ears. Repeated complaints to the Lieutenant Governor and the Delhi Police have also borne no fruit.”
“Even the CISF has indulged in unlawful flattening of the protected hill region in Vasant Kunj’s institutional area. We are fighting a case against that as well in the NGT. You can see clearly that a large part of the institutional area near the Hotel Grand is being used as parking. They are openly encroaching upon forests that are supposed to be under the protection of the Forest Department.” Sood added.
When approached for comment, LG Najeeb Jung and officials from the PWD, Forest Department and Delhi Police remained unavailable.