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Barapullah elevated corridor

Phase II: 2018

Mayank Manohar, July 24, 2018: The Times of India

Map- The location of the Barapullah elevated corridor
From: Mayank Manohar, July 24, 2018: The Times of India
The Barapullah elevated corridor, phase II- salient features
From: Mayank Manohar, July 24, 2018: The Times of India

The much-awaited Barapullah phase II project will be dedicated to the public on Saturday. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal will inaugurate the new two-km stretch of the elevated corridor, which will reduce the travel time between Sarai Kale Khan and Aurobindo Marg or INA Market by 20-25 minutes, PWD officials said.

The 4km phase I connecting Sarai Kale Khan with JLN Stadium has been operational since 2010. The initial deadline for the completion of phase II of the project was 2015 and the project cost was Rs 565 crore.

But the project was held up for various reasons, including delays in getting permission from the railways. In 2017, construction work had to be stopped following a high court order directing the PWD to first finish desilting the Kushak nullah. PWD officials claimed that it took oneand-a-half-years to get permission from the railways.

Shorter ride from east Delhi to airport

The department had to construct piers on the drain while the railways was supposed to install girders above the railway line. The Northern Railway had to complete 126-metre stretch near the Sewa Nagar railway crossing, which is now ready.

“The delay happened due to land acquisition but now everything is back on track and project is complete,” said a senior PWD official.

Once inaugurated, Barapullah phase II will reduce travel time for airport-bound traffic from east Delhi. Commute time on the stretch will further reduce after phase III, which will extend the corridor to Mayur Vihar in east Delhi. Phase III is stuck due to delay in land acquisition on the Yamuna riverbed. The work for phase III is likely to get completed by December 2019 and would cost around Rs 1,260 crore.

A senior PWD official said, “LG has formed a committee for acquisition of a 750-metre stretch near Mayur Vihar. The committee will submit its report in two months on the same and it depends on the time taken for land acquisition. We have started the work for shifting of high-tension wires. Five new towers will be constructed for rerouting of transmission line.”

He said, “The foundation of these towers has been completed and the shifting of utility will cost Rs 20 crore.”

Basai Darapur

2019/ production centre for fan parts, electrical accessories

Vibha Sharma, Dec 13, 2019 Times of India

The busy and congested lanes of Basai Darapur, an urban village near Moti Nagar in west Delhi, is the hub of units producing fan parts and electrical accessories. Almost every building has shops in the front and factories or storerooms at the back, the two connected by staircases that only a single person can use at a time. Here, a boiler blast in a factory had taken the lives of six people in January.

When TOI visited Basai Darapur on Tuesday, locals confirmed that commercial activity had begun anew in the building affected by the blast. Though there was confusion about the address identifying the property, a South Delhi Municipal Corporation official disclosed that the civic body had received complaints about the illegal factory. “Our team visited the complex on Wednesday to verify, found violations and so sealed the property,” the official asserted.

Meanwhile, on the other lanes of Basai Darapur, loading and unloading of goods was going on, affecting the movement on the roads. In the manufacturing units, mostly run out of small rooms on the ground floor or basement, 10-12 workers could be seen labouring in dim light. The windows were covered, possibly to screen the activity, and the staircases were poorly illuminated. In some place, the smell of paint, grease and chemical compounds used in the process of making fans was so strong as to affect breathing.

In the back lanes of C Block, the situation was worse. Welding work was under way in the open and the roads were being used to store stuff. The vacant DDA land nearby had become a dump for waste plastic and other materials. Despite the ban ordered by National Green Tribunal, there was open burning of plastic waste going on.

A local grocer seemed to believe the conditions in a notified industrial area would be better than in Basai Darapur. “There are certain norms for industrial areas, such as no encroachment of public land and proper exits and lighting in factories,” he said. “But here everything is messed up.”

A Delhi Police personnel deployed at the site conceded that such units were operating in every house, but explained that no action was being taken because some residents had gone to Delhi high court about the legality of their manufacturing units.

According to SDMC officials, a sealing drive is planned for the area on the directives of the Supreme Court and NGT. However, an official also admitted that there was confusion over de-notification of Basai Darapur as an industrial area. “We wrote to Delhi government’s Commissioner of Industries for clarification and it told us there were no directives to stop sealing,” he said. “We told the traders of Basai Darapur about this when they met us. We will continue sealing all illegal units.”


Begumpuri Masjid

The status of the Begumpuri Masjid, as in 2018
From: January 11, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

The status of the Begumpuri Masjid, as in 2018

Bikaner House

Restoration/ 2016

Mohammad Ibrar, Lost glory of Bikaner House restored, Dec 06 2016: The Times of India

Once a symbol of pride of the Bikaner state, Bikaner House had, over the years, lost its sheen. This was primarily due to the perception that it was just a stop to board a luxury bus to a Rajasthan city.

Things changed in 2015 when the building was restored. Now, it's fast becoming a cultural hub.

Sumanta Bhowmick, author of Princely Palaces in New Delhi, said, “It is one of the oldest and simplest of the princely palaces of Delhi with its beautiful lamps, high ceiling and tastefully done interiors, jaalis and chajjas.One speciality of this building is that the main door leads directly to the dining hall, as the Maharaja didn't like to keep his guests waiting.“

The restoration brief of the Rajasthan government--which had its offices in the building--said the building and its environs had to be modernised without altering its old look. “So we had to make ornamental changes,“ said Priya Pall, curational director, Bikaner House.

About 4.6 acres of the 7acre complex were worked on. Before that, all the offices were vacated. Pall said a small portion of the ball room's wooden flooring had to be repaired due to termite damage, walls were painted with lime, and the jaalis were also restored. “The large chandeliers are the original ones, and some new ones had to be put with the same cut glass lamps and steel chains,“ Pall said. “It has now become the gateway to Rajasthan,“ Pall added.

The ball room, conference room and rear lawns known as Chandni Bagh, have hosted several events in the past few months--from musical evenings to book launches.

On Monday , the iconic themed restaurant chain, Chor Bizarre, opened its outlet at Bikaner House as well. There's also a designer store called Vayu, which is run by designers Vivek Sahani and Dev Chang, and which showcases the best of Rajasthan's crafts.

Bikaner House was designed by Charles G Blomfield as a palace befitting a king that Maharaja Ganga Singh was.

Buddha Jayanti Park


Manimugdha Sharma, Sep 7, 2019: The Times of India

The Buddha Jayanti Park: Highlights
From: Manimugdha Sharma, Sep 7, 2019: The Times of India

Did you know that Delhi has a branch of the original Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha had done penance and received enlightenment?

As history tells us, Emperor Ashoka had gifted a branch of the original Bodhi tree to Sinhalese king Devanampiya Tissa. It was carried to him by Ashoka’s daughter and envoy, Princess Sanghamitra. King Tissa planted the tree at Anuradhapura (in Sri Lanka today) in 236 BC, where it remains to this day. But the original one at Bodh Gaya didn’t last very long, having been cut down by King Sasanka of Bengal in the 7th century AD.

That made the one at Anuradhapura the direct descendant of the original Bodhi tree, and the most revered scion wood associated with the Buddha. Over time, it came to be known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree.

In 1964, the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandarnaike, presented a sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree to India. It was planted by the then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, at a grove on the Central Ridge while inaugurating the Buddha Jayanti Park. Over 50 years hence, it’s a huge, flourishing tree and Delhi’s direct link with the Enlightened one.

This correspondent saw the tree for the first time during a nature walk recently. It turned out that not many in the group of 20-odd people knew about it until then, as the expressions of wonder suggested.

The walk, curiously named ‘forest bathing walk’, was led by Syed Mohammad Qasim, a management professional turned naturalist and photographer. “ Kaam karne ke saath saath main apni zindagi bhi jeena chahta tha (I didn’t just want to work but also live my life to the fullest),” Qasim said with a coy smile when asked why he quit his job.

For the past few years, Qasim has been documenting different facets of Delhi and promoting information about the capital’s natural heritage on social media. Last year, he founded a platform for experiential walks and called it ‘WonderfulWanderers’.

“I learnt so much while exploring the forests in Delhi. At the Buddha Jayanti Park alone, I identified 92 different species of trees, some of which are unique to Delhi. This park on the Central Ridge is important for another reason: it’s part of the Aravalis, the oldest mountain range in the world, so the flora here is quite unique,” Qasim explained.

CPWD, which maintains the park, declares on its website that it has 100 types of trees and 40 shrubs species spread over 81 acres. However, the place makes news for the wrong reasons. It had made headlines in the late 1970s when its link emerged in the kidnapping and murder of two children named Geeta Chopra and Sanjay Chopra by two men named Ranga and Billa. In 2003, a woman was allegedly gang-raped inside the park by four men of the President’s Bodyguard. In 2014, a woman was found murdered inside the park. While these incidents are stray, the park is often frowned upon by conservatives for being a retreat of amorous couples. All this hullabaloo hides the rich flora that the park has. The walk was a bid to rediscover all that.

“That’s a kusum tree. Its leaves are eaten by lac insects. From their secretions, you get lac that’s used as seal by governmental institutions. This one is chilbil or chudail papri. Its nut is edible and is often called the ‘poor man’s almond’. This one is a kan kauwa. You can make pakodas from its leaves,” Qasim kept on informing as the walk progressed.

The group was also shown an anjan tree, a Sita-Ashok tree, and a bistendutree, the fruit of which is used as fish bait by tribals in Madhya Pradesh. “Fish get intoxicated when they bite on the bait and float. That’s how the tribals catch them,” Qasim said.

Chandan Tiwary is a friend of Qasim who hops along whenever there is a walk like this. A law officer with MTNL, Tiwary runs a Facebook page called Delhi Trees where he documents trees of the capital. “I find nature inspiring. So, I share my inspiration with the people through the page. That way, I am giving something back to society,” Tiwary told TOI.

Nanda Moghe was formerly with the Swiss embassy. She said the walk had changed her perception of Delhi. “I have grown up with nature coming from Switzerland. But I don’t go for walks there. Delhi has a lot of greenery, but until I came here, I didn’t know that there are forests like these here,” Moghe said.

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