While we have been struggling for decades to decode what government’s idea of development was, and who was it’s intended beneficiary and what the cost of development was, a new phenomenon called ‘redevelopment’ has been shoved upon us. The new ‘redevelopment’ projects in New Delhi, as proposed and sanctioned by the Union Government, is on a spree to raze down seven colonies in South Delhi, construct commercial complexes along with a few accommodations for government officials, all this destruction is in clear violation of the Master Plan that was altered retrospectively to accommodate this mega real estate project of the State. While Delhi has seen one of the worst phases of its existence, with deficit of over 900,000 trees per CAG, this project alone has been granted Environmental Clearance by the government/s to fell over 16,500 trees.
This redevelopment project was granted permission on certain conditions by the National Green Tribunal, mostly around conditions of compensatory afforestation, and even that has been violated by the project proponent. The Honorable High Court in its recent order, while placing a blanket ban on all felling of trees in Delhi, questioned the bizarre reliance on planting 10 saplings over 30 km away from where they have been felled to offset the cutting of a full grown tree. As recent as April this year, the Supreme Court questioned the Central Government for not utilizing the Rs 90,000 crores collected for Compensatory Afforestation for environmental projects, and instead spending the environment budget for maintenance of roads and science labs in colleges.
So far the protests on the streets have garnered tremendous support from the masses and helped form a public opinion on the issue of ‘redevelopment’. Several citizen groups were formed to oppose this madness, all working in coalition with each other to drive a common opposition to these projects of ‘redevelopment’. The motive of this panel discussion was to have a public dialogue on these mega projects that are conceived by the State, that come at the cost of the public resources and environment.
Delhi Trees SOS, My Right to Breathe, Chetna, NDNS, Green Circle, Swechha etc were the organizers for this Panel to hear from the experts, some of the most credible and influential voices on the issue from urban design, ecology, judiciary, academics, history etc.
Below are the Speakers for the Panel Discussion:
Bahar Dutt (Moderator)
K T Ravindran