Campaigns

There have been many camapigns to save Delhi Ridge:

  • Orgainisations like Srishti, Toxics Link, Kalpavriksha have undertaken nature walks, and are part of the Save Delhi ridge. Ravi Aggarwal from Toxics Link and Ajay Mahajan from Kalpavrish are both members of Ridge Management Board and have been attending their meetings, besides being involved in field inspections to certain parts of the ridge to verify or report violations of the Forest Conservation Act.
  • In 1979 non-profit organizations and citizen’s groups working on environmental issues started the Delhi Ridge Campaign led by students to save Delhi’s Ridge Forest from encroachments and destruction.
  • Encroachment of the ridge was put on the judicial agenda with a case filed by environmental lawyer M C Mehta in 1985. Mehta contended that since the ridge was notified as a reserved forest (RF) under the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927, all encroachments on it in violation of the IFA provisions would be ‘illegal’ – irrespective of the government’s permission.
  • Ridge Bachao Andolan was formed as a confederation of various NGOs Many of its members are now apart of Natural Heritage First, and continue to work for saving the ridge forest.
  • In 1993, NGOs working on the issue came together as the Joint NGO Forum to Save the Delhi Ridge Forest. Pressure from the Forum and other concerned citizens finally led the Delhi Administration to declare, in 1996, the Ridge as a Reserve Forest under the Indian Forest Act 1927.
  • In the 1995 PIL was filed in Delhi High Court, against the illegal building of a road by the DDA(Delhi Development Authority) on a protected area, the 6.4 sq km Vasant Kunj Mahipalpur ridge. The court stopped the road.
  • The Citizens for the Preservation of the Quarries and Lakes Wilderness (CPQLW) fought to save this ridge from 1995 onwards for 12 years and managed to stop the DDA to build 13 luxury hotels on this ridge. This effort of the CPQLW firmly established the protected area credentials of this entire 6.4 sq km ridge which is in the hands of the Army and the DDA.
  • “Trees for Delhi” an action group formed in 2007 by a group of concerned citizens and environment NGOs to save the trees of Delhi that were marked for the construction of the first phase of the High Capacity Bus Service (HCBS) and road widening in South-Central Delhi.
  • In 1996 a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court, against the International Hotels complex in which 13 luxury hotels were to be built on the same ridge. In response to the case the Supreme Court created the Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (EIAA), to review the environmental status of this and all other big projects in the National Capital Territory before giving any clearance. This ridge was found to be a three way protected area. The Supreme Court judgment prohibited all building in the area.
  • Strangely, in violation of the above ruling, the DDA and the Army started building again in this totally protected area. CPQLW files a PIL with the CEC, as a Forest case – that this is a forest area where building is illegal. CEC (Central Empowered Committee) is a Supreme Court appointed body to look into violations of Forest Act. The CEC asked the Army and DDA to stop construction. No observance. Ridge Bachao Andolan also filed for a stay on the illegal construction as it is without mandatory environmental clearances. Construction is stayed in May 2006. The MOEF and the Supreme Court accept that this is a protected ridge forest area where no construction should have been done, and that too, without clearances. But in November 2006 in an enigmatic verdict they reserve judgement and allow constructions stating since some construction has already been done ‘we have no alternative but to compromise with the de facto situation.’ A Rs 5 lakh fine is levied when the commercial value of the 25 hectare site is Rs 25000 crores. Only 2.23 sq km of the area of 6.4 sq km has been protected as the Arravali Bio- diversity park.