Industrial cluster on pvt. land in Sahibabad will further choke Ghaziabad’s air, cautions green activist

Set in private land the GDA—that only has mandate for urban development—is going to prepare and execute the layout plan for an ‘industrial cluster’ that is the last thing the district requires, considering the high levels of air pollution and depletion of groundwater

In recently held board meet of Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) it was announced that a swathe of land in Sahibabad area of Ghaziabad along GT Road, about 2.5 lakh sq metres or 60 acres approx. and belonging to Durga Enterprises Pvt Ltd, was approved by the ‘state’ for the purpose of industrial use—that would also comprise apart from industrial park several other allied constructions and parks. It was also cited that the particular parcel of land had a glass factory built on it that was closed down. The GDA board meet was presided over by Commissioner, Meerut Division, Anita C Meshram in which GDA VC, Kanchan Verma and DM Ritu Maheshwari were also present.

When a question was put up to the 3 IAS officers about GDA’s jurisdiction on industrial matters they replied that the proposal had been given the nod from the state and procedure for industrial development will be done as per the law including environmental laws.

Notably, the GDA has been constituted under the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning & Development Act that empowers it to draw a master plan of development but nowhere in the Act the word industrial is mentioned—that certainly rules out GDA as an authority over industrial matters; however its strange that GDA is quite upbeat about the industrial land in question.

Ghaziabad has been on top of the list of most polluted cities not only in India but worldwide. This is also the place that is notified by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) as a notified area—that means that groundwater in Ghaziabad has fallen down to alarming levels. However, instead of addressing these problems the officials are bent on putting burden of more industries in the district.

Several cases had been filed in NGT on violations being done by the industry that is guzzling huge volumes of groundwater but officials have not taken  such matters on priority and industrialists, builders and domestic users are willfully using borewells and drawing water without any NOC. Although banned, there is no monitoring to see where and who is illegally drawing groundwater and as a result the water table in many colonies of Ghaziabad has fallen down to 200 ft.

In such as scenario GDA should have opposed the making of a new industrial corridor considering the additional burden it will put on water resources and on the environment.

Town Planner, GDA, KK Gautam said that GDA is only responsible for finalizing the layout part for the almost 60 acre land. He said that the land use has been demarcated as industrial and the GDA shall only pitch in for layout planning for the industrial pocket where as any as 3-400 industrial units will come up.

Water & Infra.

When asked about from where the industrial cluster will source water and other resources Gautam said that all internal facilities for will have to be provided by the developer of the industrial cluster. As for water there is municipal supply available said Gautam. However, municipal supply cannot be used for industries.

Notably, the CGWA has also stopped giving NOCs for new industrial projects then how come a private entrepreneur will be able to develop 3-400 industrial units is a question that only the GDA can answer.

Noted city based green activist Sushil Raghav said that the an Allahabad  High Court judgment over the ownership of land has clearly said that the owner of Durga Enterprises can go in for land-use change for public good, however the GDA is bent on changing the sub-division plan.

Raghav said he would soon ask questions to the GDA through RTI about the 1.95 lakh sq mt land in question of Durga Enterprises upon which the GDA will be sanctioning the layout plan for the private person to run this industrial cluster. He pointed out that apart from the issue of huge environment costs that such an industrial cluster would bring who would run such a cluster is a big question. He said he will also seek details of environmental assessment done by the GDA before sanction such a layout plan.

Raghav added that the state government could have asked a body like UPSIDA to do the environmental impact assessment rather than bringing the GDA into picture. He said that all officials giving sanctions and acting on behest will move out of the district after getting transferred leaving behind an extremely polluted district that already is gasping for fresh air.

There is probably no example anywhere in the country where a private person in possession of huge parcel of land will set up an industrial cluster and run it on its own if at all such a proposal goes through.

However, environment activists like Sushil Raghav have decided to move court against the decision.

By Prasoon Pant, delhincrnews.in

(E-mail: editordelhincrnews@gmail.com)