NEW DELHI: The Tughlaqabad sub-station project is caught in a limbo due to a dispute between two departments of the Delhi government over land ownership right.Raising objections, the forest department has refused to give environment clearance to the project developer Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) due to the lack of a clear picture regarding the land to be handed over for compensatory afforestation. The PGCIL was roped into build the sub-station for Delhi Transco Limited (DTL) to meet the power demand expected to arise after the coal-fired Badarpur power plant is closed down. For the last few years, there have been numerous calls to shut down the Badarpur power station, given the pollution in Delhi.
Informed sources say the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) earmarked 35-hectare of land in the Yamuna floodplain in the O Zone to the PGCIL for compensatory afforestation. But, the hiccup arose after the land-owning agency refused to transfer the ownership to forest department.For public projects, the DDA maintains, land is given on lease and the ownership right is not transferred. “Under the laws that govern the DDA’s land management, we only give land on lease and there is not a provision to change the ownership of the land,” says a DDA official.
On its part, the forest department asserts that land ownership right is a must as mandated in the Forest (Conservation) Act. “The Act states that if a project requires clearing of a developed, mature forest region, the ownership of the land where the compensatory afforestation will be undertaken, has to be transferred. It is to ensure that in future, we can declare it a Ridge area,” Chief Conservator of Forests, Delhi, Ishwar Singh says.
The land ownership right has now become a bone of contention affecting the project implementation on the ground. According to officials, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal held a meeting with officials of forest department, DDA and Power Grid Corporation to resolve the matter. It has now come to the fore that a land parcel measuring 35 hectare is to be cleared in the Tughlakabad ridge area for the project.
Meanwhile, the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has submitted its report to the Supreme Court on environment impact of the project. The apex body is yet to make the final decision in the case, but, in the initial stages of discussions, it has asked the DDA to reconsider its stand on this project. “We are in talks with the Power Grid and the DDA. Hopefully, the matter will be resolved soon,” says Singh.
The bone of contention
The sub-station for DTL will meet the power demand expected to arise after the coal-fired Badarpur power plant is closed down
Forest department refused to give clearance for project after PGCIL failed to hand over land for compensatory afforestation