The National Green Tribunal has directed Delhi's principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) to submit an expert opinion on a plea which had said the area above the Bhikaji Cama Metro station, where the DMRC has proposed the construction of a commercial complex, was designated as a park.
The plea had said the area spread over approximately a hectare is designated as a park as per the Delhi Master Plan, 2021, and located on the Sudhir Tyagi Marg in Netaji Nagar here.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed that the land which was transferred to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was only for barricading and may not be taken over by it.
"Let the PCCF, Delhi furnish an expert opinion by email before the next date.
"Since it is stated that the applicant has deposited an amount for plantation of 12,900 trees with the Delhi government, PCCF may also furnish the status of such plantations. The land which was transferred only for barricading may not be taken over by the project proponent," the bench said.
The tribunal took note of an affidavit filed by DMRC stating that four floors above the ground floor of the metro station are proposed and the land allotted is subject to land-use change for which an application has been moved to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
The matter is posted for next hearing on January 21.
DMRC had earlier told the NGT that construction of a commercial complex above Bhikaji Cama Place station was conceptualised in 2012 and it is not an afterthought as alleged by a plea challenging the structure which will add to its revenue.
Delhi Metro had told the bench that 13,332 square metre space was allotted by Land and Development Office on permanent basis for the metro station ancillary structures and proposed property development against payment of Rs 15.65 crore.
"Property development by DMRC is in line with global examples as metros are highly capital intensive projects. The commercial activities apart from enhancing the appearance and ambience of the stations will also add to non-fare box revenue to DMRC. Further, it will attract more commuters to the metro system thereby improving ridership and assisting in traffic integration," the DMRC said.
Bhikaji Cama Place metro station is strategically designed on the intersection of Ring road and Africa Avenue Road so that significant motorized traffic can be taken off the road, it had said.
"Development control norms for metro stations and railway stations/ terminals in the Master Plan of Delhi - 2021, Chapter-12 stipulate that 'metro stations along with Property Development (composite development) upto a maximum area of 3 hectare shall be permitted in all Use zones, except in recreational and Regional Park/Ridge Zone, Lutyens' Bunglow Zone and Heritage Zones," the DMRC had said.
The NGT had earlier ordered status quo on construction of a commercial complex above Bhikaji Cama Place metro station after a plea alleged that it is a designated park as per the Delhi Master Plan, 2021.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by "residents of Delhi through senior citizen Shobha Aggarwal" against the alleged illegal construction of the commercial complex above the metro station by the DMRC.
The plea, filed through advocate Saliq Shafique, had said the area spread over approximately a hectare is designated as a park as per the Delhi Master Plan, 2021, and located on Sudhir Tyagi Marg in Netaji Nagar here.
According to the plea, the DMRC in 2012 proposed construction of an underground metro station at Bhikaji Cama Place for expansion of its Phase III of MRTS (Majhlis Park to Shiv Vihar) Project.
The metro station was proposed to be built underground. It was designed to be constructed under the district park and the first parcel of land was transferred on temporary basis for easing the construction of the metro station, it had said.
"Second parcel of land, which is adjacent to the District Park (green belt), was transferred on permanent basis for entry, exit and ventilation shaft of the metro station," the plea had said.
"It is to mention that the EIA (environment impact assessment) Report dated August 2011 in Para 4.2.2 of the DMRC also records that some portion of land for the Phase-III of the project will be acquired on temporary basis and will be returned once the construction of project will be completed," it had said.
The construction at the Bhikaji Cama Place metro station began in July 2012 and workers started uprooting the trees with the help of excavators. The locals were assured that the park would be redeveloped and more trees will be planted once the construction of the metro station was completed, the plea had claimed.
It had said following the false assurance given by the DMRC, the local residents and public did not protest the removal of trees considering the fact that development of metro station will benefit the people at large.
The DMRC, instead of redeveloping the park after completion of the construction work and operation of underground Bhikaji Cama Place metro station in July 2019 published a notice inviting bookings for the four-storey commercial complex at the same location, the plea had said.
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