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April , 2013
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Home ministry orders complex in 'Ridge' area

Source: The Times of India, Date: March , 2013

NEW DELHI: The ban on construction activity in the ecologically sensitive ridge area has not stopped the Union home ministry from going ahead with its plan to build a residential-cum-office complex for Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in South Central Aravali Ridge near Mahipalpur.

Despite opposition from residents of Mahipalur village, a 10ft-high boundary wall came up around the 3,000sqm plot in November 2012. Now, the residents want Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which allotted the land, to cancel the order.

he matter was reported to the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in January. The committee is likely to visit the area for the second time soon. "We are enquiring if the area is part of the ridge. Construction in the ridge area is not allowed. Once we get all the documents, we will examine the matter," said Bhure Lal, chairperson of EPCA.

Col Devinder Sehrawat (retd), secretary of Delhi Gramin Samaj and resident of Mahipalpur, said, "DDA has allotted this land, which belongs to the gram sabha, to the ministry. It should be used for the welfare of the residents of Mahipalpur. An environment friendly project should be planned here."

If this complex is allowed, the entire village will be cut-off from Aravali Biodiversity Park, say residents. "The approach to the park is from Vasant Vihar (Poorvi Marg gate located about 4km southwest of Moti Bagh) near JNU and Vasant Kunj malls. We have an old shrine in the park, frequented by Mahipalpur residents. But as the land around the park has been given to several government agencies, we have to travel more to go there," said Sehrawat.

DDA had allotted the land in December 2010. Referring to the Delhi high court order stopping construction activities by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) near Naraina in the ridge area, Mahipalpur residents call for a similar action here. "The high court had clearly said that 'no future construction should take place in the ridge area'. We have held meetings with the DDA vice-chairman and met chief minister Sheila Dikshit in August 2012, but nothing has happened so far," said Sehrawat.

While no forest clearance has been taken for the project, Ravi Agarwal, member of Ridge Management Board, said, "If the area is in the ridge or even has its features, the project needs to be examined before it starts. It has not come before the board so far."

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