The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court has recommended that approval be granted to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for a proposed 15.5 km ‘cycle walk’ that will run through parts of the Delhi Ridge and forest areas in south Delhi.
While recommending approval for the proposal, the CEC noted that the project “is in public interest” and “is expected to provide an eco-friendly dedicated corridor for cyclists and pedestrians to traverse the city safely without being exposed to the hazards of ever-increasing traffic in the city.” It added that the ‘cycle walk’ will facilitate movement of tourists within archaeological sites and biodiversity parks located along the route.
The route runs close to the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, the Adilabad Fort and the Tughlaqabad Fort.
The Supreme Court will now have to consider granting approval for the project.
The Delhi Ridge Management Board has already approved the project. The DDA will also require forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and permission from the National Board for Wildlife for the area that falls within the eco-sensitive zone of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.
The ‘cycle walk’ will comprise a walking track and a cycling track, and is only one part of the first phase of the DDA’s proposal. It is further intended to be developed in five phases covering a total length of 201 km in the city, to provide a “dedicated safe corridor for cyclists and pedestrians”.
Of the 15.5 km, around 11.25 km will run through parts of the ridge, the morphological ridge, the eco-sensitive zone of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, and deemed forest land in Sangam Vihar, Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Jahanpanah City Forest and Tughlaqabad Biodiversity Park. Covering around 6.75 hectares of forest area, the proposed ‘cycle walk’ will involve the transplantation of 92 trees.
According to the DDA’s proposal, it will “connect isolated forest blocks whenever they are transected by roads by creating land bridges beneath the existing roads.”
“Nature walks and cycle trips shall expose the citizens to indigenous trees, birds and other wildlife and biodiversity rich forests…The Project will also provide safe green last-mile connectivity, eco-friendly mode of mobility and enable citizens to engage and appreciate the natural and archaeological heritage of Delhi by experiencing it while on cycle or walk,” the proposal added.
Since the proposal submitted for approval will involve parts of the Tughlaqabad Biodiversity Park, a DDA project under the guidance of ecologist C R Babu, the CEC report also noted his observations on the project which said that “in principle, Delhi Cycle Walk should not be permitted inside biodiversity parks, forests and wildlife sanctuaries as it disrupts the movement of wildlife and also pose risk to the life of cyclers.”
However, he went on to add that the Delhi Cycle Walk stretch along the Tughlaqabad Biodiversity Park has been agreed to since the route is to be along the boundary wall of the biodiversity park, except for two locations. Babu also made recommendations, which include ensuring no lighting along the cycle walk is permitted since it may lead to adverse impact on plants and animals, and any plantation carried out along the path should be in consultation with the scientists at the biodiversity park.