A month after the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) announced its decision to develop Dwarka’s Bharat Vandana Udhyan — a green patch spread across 200 acres — into a theme park, residents have upped the ante against the plan. Scores of residents of Dwarka and adjoining neighbourhoods such as Janakpuri, Palam, Uttam Nagar as well as nearby villages, including Kakrola, Nawada and Matiala, will form a human chain at the park this Sunday. The protesting residents and activist forums have sought an appointment with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, demanding the patch be developed into a biodiversity park or a city forest. They fear the park will be “concretised”.
“We will form a human chain and stage a protest against the DDA’S plan to turn this patch into a theme park with concrete structures. We have been trying to meet the L-G. We had been campaigning for developing a forest in the area as it would serve as green lung for Dwarka,” said Diwan Singh, a resident and environment activist. Last month, union minister of state for housing and urban development Hardeep Singh Puri, while announcing a slew of projects, said Dwarka’s green patch, in sector 20, will be developed into a theme park based on the concept of a mini-India representing all states. The DDA, which has given the project to the National Buildings Construction Company (NBCC), plans to develop the area as a tourist attraction. As per the initial plan, a section will be developed into mini-India and will have either replicas of monuments or something unique from each state.
A senior DDA official said it will have cycling tracks, water bodies, space for restaurants and car parking. As it is spread over a large area, the land-owning agency plans to run a tram on the periphery of the park. “All big cities in the world have parks that are major attraction for tourists and locals. Bharat Vandana Park will be developed as Delhi biggest park with several features,” said a senior DDA official, who did not wish to be named. With Dwarka — which is concretised — facing a air pollution problem, especially during winters when pollution levels rise, residents want the area be developed as a “green lung”. Environment experts say developing it as a biodiversity park will not only will bring down pollution but also help maintain the micro-climate of the area. C R Babu, professor emeritus at Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystems at Delhi University, said he was contacted by DDA to examine the place for developing a biodiversity park almost three years ago. “The place is best suited for a biodiversity park, as it also has some wildlife. I had also given a layout.
It would have been better for the area,” Babu said. DDA officials say the plan will be finalised soon. As for the concerns raised by residents, the officer said, “There are two adjoining green patches that will be developed as green spaces.” With DDA firm on developing it as a theme park, Singh said, “It is a setback for us. The wildlife species that exist will also go away if concrete structures come up. We had been writing to the L-G about the issue. Developing the space into a biodiversity park would have helped create a wetland and recharge the groundwater table as the area has been grappling with water scarcity for years,” he said. Sushil Kumar, president, Dwarka Forum, said, “There is no clarity. The DDA has not responded to our letters. Having a forest will help address water and air pollution issues that are massive concerns here.”