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DDA, Stop Choking Delhi’s Parks and Outdoor Gyms with Concrete

Concrete bases at parks and open gyms are preventing ground water table recharge.

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My Report
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Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Cameraperson and Reporter: Mythreyee Ramesh, Aastha Gulati

A Niti Aayog report states that 21 cities, including Delhi, will run out of groundwater by 2020. That is effectively 6 months away. While the Delhi Jal Board is working hard to get water back into the underground aquifers, the Delhi Development Authority is using its resources to concretise the last remaining soil surfaces in the city.

Take Sanjay Van for example. Right after entering from the Qutab Institutional Area, there is a concrete path where the gym is supposed to be constructed.

There is also a big board that states ‘We are in a reserve forest. Enjoy the beauty of nature.’ How ironic is that?

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A few weeks ago, I came here with a group of people. While we were leaving, we saw concrete structures being built around the grass space. When I got closer, I saw that they had concretised the trees and choked the trees with cement. The cementing is in violation of the National Green Tribunal order from 23 April 2013.

The staff present there was informed immediately about the violation, but they didn’t bother to take any corrective measures until the media reported on it. Thereafter, cement was removed from around the trees, but the rest of the cement on the grassy area remained.

When I spoke to the DDA person in-charge of the landscape, she said it was not safe for people to fall in the grass, and that they were “spending a lot of money on people’s safety.”

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She said that their plan is to lay some concrete on the soil and grass, and then some synthetic tiles on top of this concrete. She also said that it was just a small space they were concretising, so was hardly a big deal.

But if you count all these small spaces, they are not small spaces anymore. The total soil space for ground water recharge in the city is being reduced by many acres.

All these many acres of soil space where water could have gone down into the ground, it can’t now due to unnecessary concretising. If you put water in the soil, it will go into the ground. But if you put water on this kind of concrete, it won’t go down. It will stay there.

Concretising the last soil spaces will prevent ground water recharge. The way forward should be to remove the concrete floors at outdoor gyms and instead increase as much soil space in the city as possible.

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Concretisation Not Limited to Sanjay Van

In Nehru Park, we see that while the grass space is not being used for the outdoor gym, it is being used for new concrete paths.

The entire park has concrete paths for people to walk on. So, why is the soil space in the centre of the concrete path getting more concrete? It’s unnecessary.

In fact, in the outdoor gyms with soil flooring, the machines are working perfectly fine, and people are enjoying themselves. There’s no need for concretisation.

We need to connect with nature. We need to stop all the destruction. The more we learn to co-exist, the better our civilisation will be.

(The author is the founder of New Delhi Nature Society. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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