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Zone O rewrite for regularisation of colonies on floodplains

The Indian Express, New Delhi, 17th April, 2013

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is looking to redefine "Zone O", under which falls the Yamuna riverbed, so that colonies like Sonia Vihar and Jaitpur, which have come up on the floodplains, can be excluded from the zone and regularised.

This exercise has been undertaken after directions from L-G's office. According to sources, while an aerial survey of the built-up area has been done, a ground verification will have to be taken up before arriving at a final decision.

Confirming this, officer on special duty to L-G, Ranjan Mukherjee, said: "A committee under the Delhi Master Plan-2021 review process is looking into this matter.''

The minutes of the advisory committee meeting on MPD-2021 held on August 30, 2012,read: "L-G observed that Zone O defines the river Yamuna Bed where few unauthorised colonies and old villages also exist. In Zone O, embankments have effectively segregated the unauthorised colonies from the riverbed. L-G, therefore, directed that the boundary of Zone O be re-visited in consultation with the Environment department of Delhi government to exclude colonies such as Sonia Vihar. Jaitpur, Jaitpur Extension, etc.''

Unauthorised colonies such as Sadat Pur, Karawal Nagar (part), Khajuri Khas (part), Abu Fazal Enclave and Shaheen Bagh fall under Zone O.

According to L-G's office, these colonies, like many other unauthorised colonies in Delhi, have been in existence for over 40 years and cannot be uprooted now.

"The built-up area, approximately 2,000 hectares, can be taken out of Zone O and merged with the adjacent zones and the active flood-prone area can be retained within Zone O, which shall be around 8,000 hectares instead of 10,056 hectares,'' a DDA official said.

The Planning department of DDA is looking into this matter. This move is especially important in view of the upcoming Delhi elections. The government had promised regularisation of 1,600 colonies of which they have already regularised 895 and are in the process of figuring out how to regularise other colonies, including the ones on the floodplain.

 "No construction is allowed on the floodplain, apart from the Commonwealth Games Village flats. The Millennium Depot was also constructed there during the Games period and the land use of this area has been changed so that it can be used for transportation,'' the official said.

Meanwhile, DDA's ambitious river-front development project is being put on the fast track.