Report in HC says agencies underestimated two major issues — traffic and water
NEWDELHI: Located in the heart of the city with proximity to transit nodes, it could have been a model for redevelopment of existing areas in the future. But the East Kidwai Nagar Redevelopment Project has become a major cause of concern, as two key issues — traffic and water — have been ignored.
SANCHIT KHANNA/HT ARCHIVE
According to the IIT-Delhi report submitted to the high court, the traffic circulation assessment for the East Kidwai Nagar Redevelopment Project is based on a 2010 survey which has ‘no estimates to project it (traffic) for future’.
A report, submitted to the Delhi high court by Indian institute of Technology-Delhi (IITDelhi) professor Geetam Tiwari, has stated that the increased traffic load caused by the project could result in congestion on Ring Road and Aurobindo Road. Meanwhile, concerns about water supply to the complex, spread over 86 acres, have also been raised by the high court which has asked the concerned agencies to explain how water requirements would be met.
Urban experts said that the shortcomings in such vital issues set an example of “how not to plan a project”.
In a first of a three-part series, HT takes a look at issues plaguing East Kidwai Nagar project and efforts made to decongest the area.
NOT ON TOD NORMS
The traffic issue, urban experts say, could have been addressed if the project was developed as per the transit oriented development (TOD) norms mentioned in the Master Plan of Delhi-2021. “(Parking space in the complex) is more than the parking spaces as per the recommendation for TOD zone,” read the report.
The IIT-Delhi report says this is the “first project” developed as per the “new guidelines notified by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for TOD”. The National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which has developed the complex, clarified that “it is not a TOD project”.
AK Mittal, chairman and managing director of NBCC, said, “The TOD policy has not been notified yet. This project has been developed as per the redevelopment norms for group housing colonies in MPD-2021. The parking provision is as per the prescribed norms.” The project was approved by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) in 2013.
The TOD policy was notified by the Centre in 2015 and regulations for its operationalisation were issued in 2016. In 2017, DDA had roped-in the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) to revise the policy. According to a senior DDA official, “The policy is under revision; NIUA has recently submitted its recommendation.”
Transport experts say Kidwai Nagar was an ideal location for the implementation of TOD. “This falls under the TOD influence zone. If it was developed as per TOD norms, the traffic problem would have been addressed as parking space would have been reduced. It would have encouraged the use of public transport. This is a lesson for future redevelopments,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment.
‘UNDERESTIMATED’ TRAFFIC FORECAST
The impact of the project on existing civic infrastructure and traffic should have been assessed in detail, say experts. According to the IIT-Delhi report, the traffic circulation assessment is based on a 2010 traffic survey. The report says that NBCC “underestimated” the increase in traffic load and there is “no estimates to project it (traffic) for future”.
With pollution acquiring epidemic proportions in the city, environment experts stress on the need for a traffic impact assessment before granting permission. This project was approved by the UTTIPEC — the apex body for approving road and transportation projects — and State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), which is the main body for environment clearance.
“The project has got all necessary approvals,” said Mittal.
“The traffic assessment is being done in post-facto scenario. The traffic forecast should have been analysed at the time of giving approval to the project. UTTIPEC and SEIAA should have looked into the traffic and pollution problem in detail,” said Kanchi Kohli, environment campaigner and researcher with the Centre for Policy Research.
Another major concern is water. The high court has asked for clarity on how water requirements for the project would be met.
Initially, NBCC had asked for 3,700 kilo litres per day (KLD) of water from the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). This included both fresh and treated water. Fresh water is generally used for drinking, while treated water is used for activities like horticulture, flushing etc.
However, in an affidavit in the high court, NDMC had stated that it can give only 2,400 KLD of fresh water. Any further requirement of water would not be met by the Delhi Jal Board.
In an application to vacate the stay over the handing over of commercial plots in the complex, NBCC later informed the court that it would now need 2,665 KLD of fresh water.
According to NBCC, the total requirement of water is 5,058 KLD of water (both fresh and treated). Out of this, 2,665 KLD would be fresh water, while the rest would be treated.
This still leaves a deficit of 265 KLD of drinking water between NBCC’s requirements and what the NDMC has said it would be able to provide. The high court, meanwhile, has directed NDMC to “clearly indicate” the source of the water that would be supplied to the complex.
“There is no issue regarding water supply. NDMC has assured us that they will supply 2,400 KLD for domestic use. Close to 2,600 KLD will be treated water from three sewerage treatment plants which will be used for horticulture, flushing etc,” said Mittal.
Experts say that densification in redevelopment projects should be linked to the available water supply there. “Densification in redevelopment should be planned as per the existing water supply to area. In redevelopment projects, it is mandatory to reused recycled water, as a result the demand for fresh water is reduced by 35-40%. There is a need to prioritise the fresh water usage in redevelopment projects, as giving additional water is not possible in the present situation,” said Praveen Bhargava, former chief nodal officer, Delhi Jal Board.
Bhargava said that the real challenge is in providing water in new developments. Residents of Dwarka and Vasant Kunj had to fight a long battle to get water supply. Even today large parts of Rohini and Narela are facing acute shortage of water.
‘HOW NOT TO PLAN’
While urban planners and designers say that densification through redevelopment is the way to go for cities like Delhi and Mumbai, they stressed on assessing the need for based on-ground situation. Arunava Dasgupta, head of urban design, School of Planning and Architecture, said, “These projects can’t be planned in isolation. There is a need to factor in the metro connectivity and accordingly plan for parking requirement. The impact of the redevelopment on neighbouring areas and on the environment has to be assessed.”
Manali Singhal, petitioner and advocate, said, “There has been no town planning in the project and the authorities have failed to ease the living conditions for residents… If the court finds any illegality in the project, then it should make sure that the authorities are held liable.”
“This is an example of how not to plan a redevelopment project,” said Kohli.