Delhi Ridge Project – An environmental study on ecological planning

Project Location: New Delhi, India
Project Area: 2135 acres

Sprawled over 34,000 sq km area, NCR is the country’s largest planning region with a population of 46 million. Over the last five decades, despite the existence of three master plans for Delhi and two regional plans for NCR, the regions has witnessed an unplanned spatial growth as a border-less city. Conversions of agricultural land caused the land to become cheaper and fueled the growth of speculative real estate. While the Regional Plan 2001 had factored in an addition of 45,291 hectares to accommodate the estimated population growth, in reality the total built-up area increased by more than three times to 2.63 lakh hectares. Water supply deficit is as high as 50 per cent. In a region like Delhi, the reduction in wind speed due to increasing urbanisation should be analysed and its impact on air quality should be considered while planning city development or expansion. There was a 40 per cent decrease in water bodies in the region.

Delhi Ridge/ The Ridge – Physical Features

  • A northern extension of the ancient Aravalli Range(1500 million years old)
  • Consists of quartzite rocks. covering a distance of about 35 kilometres.
  • Said to be the green lungs for the city ; protects Delhi from the hot winds of the deserts of Rajasthan to the west.
  • Delhi – second most bird-rich capital city.
  • Has a crucial role in pollution absorption, groundwater recharge and amelioration of environment.
  • Rocky hilly, forested area which lends a unique geographic character to Delhi.
  • Home to a wide variety of flora & fauna native to the Delhi region, preserving the ecological biodiversity

The ‘urban sprawl’ results in many issues because of the way in which it happens now. Agricultural and industrial development results in consumption of resources like food, energy, water and land and generation of waste. Population growth occurs due to migration for better opportunities and better services. The fertility rates are also higher due to better healhcare services. Commercialisation occurs to meet the demands of the people. This results in an environmental impact and causes climate change by the formation of heat islands, causes pollution and also creates greater water runoff rather than water retention.

Key Concepts of the project

  • Urbanisation – becomes a paradox when unplanned – results in a sporadic growth, an urban sprawl, encroaching upon the natural environment.
  • Complete disregard to the ecological system, disrespect for nature and refusal to work wihin its limitations results in imbalance and destruction.
  • Nature and man-made should compliment each other and is interdependent on each other.
  • The elements of the environment need to approached with a certain amount of sensitivity for a long term sustainable relationship and not for short tern economic gain.
  • Understand nature of a place by analyzing its bio-physical components such as climate, geology, physiographic, hydrology, soils, vegetation and wildlife, establishing their inter-relationship.
  • Ascertain tolerance and intolerance of the components to man-made demands of land use.
  • Arrive at a healthy compromise whereby all the bio-physical components and existing development function properly and sustain all planned demands.
  • The ridge as a potential recreation resource has to be understood in terms of its fragile eco-system and planned in such a way that the very character of this place is preserved and enriched.

My Inferences from the project

  • Zonal mapping of spatial quality should be determined taking into consideration the ecological factors from the site analysis.
  • When we consider these zones the spatial quality is mapped in a gradation. A useful idea because it delineates more realistic boundaries (or emphasizes the lack thereof) in terms of buildability. Avoids looking at zoning ideas as stark confined boundaries
  • The projection of future densities and the changing ecological nature of the site is a way to consider the temporal nature of the site and take it into account for design consideration as spatial utility must adapt to changing conditions and also influences such conditions.
  • Ecological analysis must reflect the interdependability of various ecological systems.
  • The zonal analysis must account for the impact to the larger context qualitatively and quantitatively.

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