The Supreme Court on Wednesday said Delhi Ridge acts as a lung which supplies oxygen to city residents, while directing the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to not go ahead with land allotment in areas considered to be notified as protected areas.
A bench, headed by Justice B.R. Gavai, said: “It cannot be doubted that the ridge in Delhi acts as a lung which supplies oxygen to the citizens of Delhi…”
Citing an order, the bench, also comprising Justice Vikram Nath, said it was observed that other areas having morphological ridges were required to be protected and no permission for construction should be given there.
It noted that it appears that there has been some difficulty in identifying the areas of ridge which are not notified but also have the same ridge-like features.
In order to identify areas, which need to be protected as a notified ridge, the apex court directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest to set up a committee consisting of a senior officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary, one representative each of the Delhi Forest Department, the Geological Survey of India and the DDA, and a nominee of the Ridge Management Board to work out modalities.
Seeking a preliminary report by March 15, the top court said the ministry’s officer would be the chairman and convener of the committee.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Ministry of Finance, had filed an application 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 DDA had allotted the land to the DRI.
The DRI’s counsel contended that the Supreme Court-constituted panel, Central Empowered Committee, has imposed a condition on it to plant 500 trees and his instructions are that they were ready to plant 1,000 trees.
After hearing arguments, the bench allowed the application filed by the DRI.