DU, JNU, IIT experts panel to submit plan on developing Yamuna’s banks
New Delhi, September 26, 2013: The Centre has decided not to implement a riverfront development plan
prepared by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Instead, it formed the panel to "critically examine and review" the DDA plan and submit an
improved one by October 28. With the task of removal of thousands of truckloads of debris from the
riverbed nearing completion, riverbank development is the next task, which will be monitored by the National Green Tribunal. The tribunal
will also decide the timeframe for the project's execution after the final plan is submitted.
The panel formed by the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) at the behest of the tribunal is headed by CR Babu, director emeritus,
Centre for Management of Degraded Ecosystems (DU). Professor (retired) Brij Gopal of JNU and professor AK Gosain of IIT-Delhi will be its members.
A note issued by the national river conservation directorate of the MoEF says, "The panel will suggest steps so that the (DDA's) plan could be
improved further keeping in mind the environmental concerns for the river. It will finalise the plan after taking all agencies concerned on
board. It will also consider the observations of the Supreme Court. The tenure of the committee will be one month." The DDA's plan aims to conserve and
restore biodiversity of the Yamuna and integrate it with public recreation spaces that Delhi needs.
The DDA has conducted a study of all natural features and site conditions for the development of the 46-km Yamuna banks. Source:Hindustan Times
Centre asks Delhi to relocate CWG bus depot on floodplains
New Delhi, September 24, 2013: The Centre has asked the Delhi government to relocate, at the earliest,
the Millennium Bus Depot raised illegally on 51 acres of the Yamuna floodplains abutting Ring Road and National Highway 24.
The Centre has also rejected a move by the Delhi Development Authority
to change the land use of the land from “river and water body” to “transportation” to legitimise the structure. The Delhi Transport
Corporation depot was supposed to be a temporary structure only during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. While the sporting
event got over in 15 days, the depot remained, causing the floodplains to shrink.
Environmentalists say relocation of the depot is critical because it is located within 100 metres from the Yamuna. Maintenance of buses means
engine oil and other pollutants flow into the river. Concretisation of areas which serve as flood zones for rivers leads to flash floods.
The Delhi High Court had a year ago told the Delhi government and the DDA to change, if possible, the land use through laid-down procedures,
including a public hearing in six months. Else, the depot was to be relocated.
The Union urban development ministry which owns the land has written several letters (copies with HT) between 2012 and 2013 to the
Delhi government and demanded the land to be returned. On September 2, the ministry also rejected the DDA’s proposal to change the land use.
“The Delhi government has to follow the court order and relocate the
depot,” said Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. The ministry has in its letters said it had only allowed the Delhi
government in 1996 to use 101 acres of land for dumping of fly ash, but
half of this land was used to set up a bus depot. Source: Hindustan Times
PM inaugurates restored Humayun's tomb near Yamuna
New Delhi, September 19, 2013 (IANS):Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday praised the
public-private partnership model that has restored the Humayun's tomb It was built close to the Yamuna river in 1565, nine years after the
death of Mughal emperor Humayun. The 16th century tomb complex, which is a World Heritage Site, has been
restored after six years of work. "I think we have found a good model in the public-private partnership
that has restored this great monument to its earlier glory," Manmohan
Singh said while inaugurating the refurbished tomb. "The obvious lesson from this example is the efficacy of integrating
conservation efforts with public policies and schemes for urban renewal," he said.
The tomb's restoration project is the largest and most ambitious heritage conservation project undertaken in India and the only one by a
non- government body, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Archaeological Survey of India, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, World
Monuments Fund, Ford Foundation and other organisations are partners in the project.
The prime minister said: "The Humayun's tomb project, I believe, has provided 200,000 man-days of employment for master craftsmen."
"I would like to congratulate the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the ASI
and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust on the success of this endeavour," he added.
Landslip threat to Yamunotri temple
Thiruvananthapuram, September 17, 2013: Unregulated construction activities pose a serious risk to the Yamunotri
temple, a popular pilgrim destination in Uttarakhand, increasing its vulnerability to landslips, data gathered by the Indian Institute of
Remote Sensing (IIRS), Dehradun, shows. The site, which represents the
source of the Yamuna river, has been rendered vulnerable by heavy construction along the banks,
exposing pilgrims to the risk of landslips triggered by heavy rain or earthquake, P.K. Champati Ray, professor and Head,
Geosciences and Geohazards, IIRS, said.
Satellite data analysed by the IIRS found a shift in the course of the
river towards the temple, Dr. Ray said in his address at a one-day national consultation workshop titled ‘Towards a safer State: lessons
from Uttarakhand’ organised by the Institute of Land and Disaster Management
(ILDM) here on September 14, 2013. “The analysis showed heavily built-up areas on the banks, with some
constructions right on top of the gabions installed for protection of the banks.”
Dr. Ray said the IIRS had suggested remedial measures such as macro
fencing to shore up the vulnerable stretches of the banks. “Our recommendations include assessment of landslips using satellite and
aerial observation, river channelization, preparation of a detailed landslip inventory, risk assessment, detection of land use changes, and
glacial lake and snow cover mapping.” The institute had also highlighted the need for pilgrim management and
communication of the risks to the pilgrims. Source: The Hindu
Humayun's Tomb along the Yamuna river being transformed
Delhi, September 13, 2013: The sixteenth-century Humayun's Tomb along the Yamuna river girds up to
receive thousands of noisy visitors. Now it is being transformed into an authentic
Mughal garden laid around a central axis with monuments, fountains, water bodies and a large variety of tree and bird species. The project's
landscape planner, Mohammed Shaheer, says the aim is to conserve the
environment and create a "major landscaped space" aligning nature and utility in a garden.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is partnering Archaeological Survey of India and the site owner, Central Public Works
Department , in the project has already laid out such gardens in Cairo
(Al-Azhar Park), Kabul (Bagh-e Babur and Central Park), Zanzibar (Forodhani Park and Seafront ), Mali (National Park of Mali), Alleppo
(Bab Qinessrine Park) and Khorog (Khorog City Park).
The project was conceived while AKTC was restoring the gardens of
Humayun's Tomb during 1997-2003 . When they are completed in 2015, the Sunder Nursery gardens will cover 100 acres across the nursery and the
adjoining Batashewala complex. Shaheer says the gardens will have a microhabitat zone for plants found on Delhi's ridge, river banks, plains
and other zones. Edged by nine mounds, the microhabitat zone will replicate Delhi's
original landscape to increase environmental awareness among the 3 lakh schoolchildren who visit Humayun's Tomb every year.
AKTC has recorded 1,800 mature trees of more than 200 species at the nursery on a
geographic information system (GIS) and planted another 100-odd species. "Biodiversity studies in 2012 documented 54 species of resident birds
and 24 species of butterflies,'' said an official. Source: Times of India
Uttarakhand pushes for hydro-power projects in the Upper Yamuna River Basin
Dehradun, September 6, 2013: The Uttarakhand Government is seeking forest clearance for the 300 MW Lakhwar
hydroelectric power project even after the Supreme Court on August 13 directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the State Government not to
grant clearance for hydroelectric power projects in the State until further orders. Last week Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar met the MoEF Secretary Dr. V.
Rajagopalan to get the clearance for the Lakhwar project. Further, on August 12, the State Government had received the Ministry’s
clearance for a 120 MW Vyasi hydroelectric power project.
These proposed projects are located in the Upper Yamuna River Basin in
Dehradun district. These projects had received clearance in 1986 when they were under Uttar
Pradesh’s Irrigation Department. Work continued till about 1992. At present the projects are under the Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited
(UJVNL). A change in the authority undertaking the project requires a new clearance, which is what the State Government is trying to seek.
Mr. Kumar said 3 kilometres of tunnelling was done when the project was under the Irrigation Department. Also, work for Lakhwar project’s power
house had started before the project was transferred to the UJVNL.“About 35 per cent work has been done in the Vyasi project,” Mr. Kumar said.
The State Government has been pushing for the projects even after facing objections from environmentalists. According to the data in
SANDRP, in the Yamuna River Basin one project is under construction, 17 are completed, and 20 are proposed. While many are demanding for the revival
and restoration of the Yamuna, no cumulative assessment of the impact of
the hydro-power projects in the Yamuna River Basin has been done by the authorities, Mr. Thakkar said.
On April 22, 58 organisations and individuals issued a statement
projecting concern over the proposed Lakhwar and Vyasi projects. The statement was sent to agencies including the concerned EAC members and
the Planning Commission. Source: The Hindu
DDA's proposal to redraw Yamuna floodplain criticised
NEW DELHI, August 17, 2013: The Delhi Development Authority’s proposal to redraw the boundaries of
the existing river zone, known as ‘Zone O’, that will allow constructions in the areas has drawn criticism from environmentalists.
A non-government organisation, the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, which has been
campaigning for the protection of the floodplains in the city has shot off a letter to Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung protesting against the
proposal, which will be discussed by the DDA at its meeting next week.
The YJA has alleged that the move will not only shrink the floodplains
in the city by allowing constructions in the hitherto prohibited area, but also allow housing to come up in precarious areas, thereby, risking
life and property. The move to redraw the Zone O, YJA has said, will offer people living in
unauthorised colonies a “false sense of security”.
“Delhi is the first major city on the Yamuna and when flood waters in
excess of 10 lakh cusec flow downstream at Hathnikund, it could play havoc with all the low-lying areas in the city, including the areas that
the DDA plans to slice out of the current definition of Zone O. Zone O, which currently defines the bounds of the Yamuna in the city, is the left over of the original vast flood plain
of the river and the maintenance of its integrity is essential for the physical and environmental safety and security of the city, including its water
security, the YJA claimed.
“It is precisely for this reason that in 2005, the Delhi High Court had
set up an empowered committee under Justice Usha Mehra to oversee the
removal of all existing structures from the riverbed and floodplains. And it was for this reason that the then L-G had imposed a moratorium on
any new construction in the river bed and the Zone O was given a ‘green’ tag,” Mr. Misra added. Source: The Hindu
Yamuna’s course shifting, Noida banks face disaster
Noida, August 08, 2013: Rampant illegal sand mining in the Yamuna bed has forced the river to
change its course by about 500 metres in Noida over a period of 15 years, the Uttar Pradesh irrigation department said on Tuesday.
“We have written dozens of letters to the respective Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrates in this regard but they failed to take any
substantial action due to pressure from the sand mafia. We can only tell
the district administration about the prevailing condition of the Yamuna,” said an official of the irrigation department, requesting
anonymity. The department said it had sent a letter last month as well.
“If sand mining continues the same way, the day is not far when an
Uttarakhand-like disaster will take place due to the receding floodplains. We do not have powers to curb illegal mining. This is the
responsibility of the district administration and the police. But instead of taking action
against them, they shelter the mafia under pressure from political bosses,” said the official.
On June 16, flood in the Yamuna had damaged the river bank near Noida’s
Sector-168 where the river swelled up to 207 meters after heavy rain. The department said soil up to 20 feet had been dug up illegally in the
riverbed. The sand mining mafia controls the entire 60-km stretch along the Yamuna that falls in Gautam Budh Nagar district.
“We have lodged several FIRs against criminals in the past three years, but police have not taken any action so far,” the official said.He said
illegal mining was being carried out near Kambakshpur, Tilwara, Jhuppa, Belakala, Gulawali, Shahdra, Sectors 150, 135, 168, 167 and
others areas right under the nose of the administration and police officials.
Noida and Greater Noida are already low-lying areas situated on the left side of the Yamuna and the entire region is badly affected by mining
activities, say experts. “Mining has lowered Yamuna’s bed towards Noida. And the base is so
shallow that a flood can create havoc if mining continued unabated. Mining has led to soil erosion in the river, which is bound to affect
the ecology of the river,” said Akash Vashishth of the Hindustan Environment Action Group. Source: Hindustan Times
National Green Tribunal restrains sand mining
New Delhi , July 6, 2013: The National Green Tribunal today restrained sand mining without any licence
or environmental clearance from Yamuna river and other river beds across the country on a plea
alleging that such activities were going on in UP with the "wilful
connivance" of its state machinery. Widening the ambit of the plea, a bench headed by NGT
Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said its order would be applicable across the
nation as the petition raises substantial environmental issues.
Initially, the bench restrained illegal sand mining on the beds and
banks of rivers Yamuna, Ganga, Hindon, Chambal, Gomti, amongst others,
but later modified its order saying the issue of illegally removing sand has nationwide implications.
The tribunal also directed all the mining officers and concerned police
officers of all the states to ensure compliance of its orders, on the plea filed by the National Green Tribunal Bar Association.It also issued
notice to all respondents seeking their response by August 14. The petition
alleged that those who have opposed such sand mining, including field level officers, like suspended SDM Durga Sakhti
Nagpal, have been victimised which is also apparent from various news reports.
It also alleged that recently a man who had raised his voice against the
"powerful sand mafia" had been killed in his home by few goons in broad daylight.
In its petition, the association contended that "rampant illegal sand
mining in the river beds of Yamuna, Ganga, Hindon, amongst others, without prior environmental clearance or in violation of the EC is being
carried out and the same is affecting the integrity of the concerned
river systems and flood plains". The apex court had also held that any person carrying on sand mining on
land which is less than five hectares, requires clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests or the State Environment Impact
Assessment Authority (SEIAA). Source: NDTV
Study finds rare turtles, gharials in parts of Yamuna
NEW DELHI, July 29, 2013: The wildlife researchers studying the Yamuna say that the river has immense importance
biodiversity wise. A recent study by World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) in collaboration with the
Thames River Trust, UK has documented the faunal diversity on a 194km river stretch from Bateshwar Ghat in Agra to Dibholi Ghat in
Etawah. Among other significant findings, the team of researchers found gharials nesting near the confluence of Yamuna and
They also found other threatened species like the ganges dolphin and
black- necked stork. The study was conducted between July 2011 and February 2013 by a team of
four researchers including a boatman to record biodiversity, threats to
habitat and perception of communities to river biodiversity in the region. "Most reports on Yamuna are related to water quality but there
is complete lack of information on biodiversity. The study is going to help develop a 'biodiversity conservation action plan for
Yamuna' says Asghar Nawab, project coordinator (River Basin) Freshwater and Wetlands
Programme, WWF. The report that is currently being compiled is likely to be published in a couple of months.
The team came across were the nesting of gharials near Gohani village
from the Chambal- Yamuna confluence and sightings of small groups of Ganges river dolphins from Hamirpur to
Panchnada. Other species documented by the team included turtles like the chitra indica and
soft- shelled turtle; birds like egyptian vultures, pelicans and spoonbills among many others.
Rs 351 cr drinking water Lakhwar project on Yamuna
Deharadun, July 27, 2013: With the Uttarakhand government keen on constructing the 300 MW multipurpose Lakhwar project on the river
Yamuna, the state planning commission has chalked out plans for developing a Rs 351 crore drinking water network from the dam in order
to fulfill the growing water needs of Dehradun city.
The technical advisory committee (TAC) of the central water commission (CWC) last year had
given its clearance to 300 the Lakhwar project located in Dehradun district where an investment of Rs nearly Rs 4,000 crore is needed.
Unlike the raging hydel project controversy surrounding the river Ganga, the projects on the river Yamuna have remained away from the prying eyes
of environmentalists and religious leaders.
Lakhwar is a multipurpose project on the river Yamuna which will also
provide irrigation and drinking water benefits to Delhi and other northern states like Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The project
was transferred from NHPC to the state-run UJVN Ltd in 2010 and has also
been declared as a national project. Lakhwar would also provide 330 MCM of drinking water from its dam. The
project would also irrigate a total of 31923 hectare of land in these
states. Delhi and Rajsthan have already given their acceptance to share the cost of the project.
It would be constructed by the UJVNL at an estimated cost of Rs 3,966
crore, out of which the Centre would provide Rs 2,578 crore and the remaining Rs 1,388 crore would be invested by the state
government. To be completed in four years, the project will be capable of irrigating
39123 hectares of land. The water can be brought through gravity tunnel of about 21 km length from Lakhwar project to Dehradun city,
which is facing acute water shortage especially during summers. The total cost of constructing such a tunnel will be Rs 231 core and the
remaining Rs 120 crore will be spent on appurtenant works, water treatment and distribution networks, said Harshpati
Unniyal, adviser to the state planning commission. Source: Business Standard
Who is responsible for the upkeep of the Yamuna
New Delhi, July 15, 2013: Who is responsible for the upkeep of the Yamuna and keeping its
floodplains from turning into a concrete jungle? The answer is nobody. Responses to an RTI plea by several departments have put an official
stamp on what has been a general accusation that no government agency is ready to own up and deliver on its responsibility to save the river.
The innocuous right to information application had sought answer to the question “whether the location of Akshardham Temple, Commonwealth Games
Village and a Delhi Transport Department’s depot for AC buses was located in the riverbed/floodplains of the Yamuna”.
Every single department that could be related with the river passed the buck on each
other, each distancing itself from the dying river.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee forwarded the plea to the
department of irrigation & flood control, which in turn said the matter was related to the Delhi Development Authority. The Central Pollution
Control Board and Delhi’s environment department also furnished similar replies. But the DDA said the matter was not related to it. Survey of India felt
Delhi’s department of information technology should respond.
DDA owns land, changes land use and build structures. The irrigation
and flood control department is responsible for building and maintaining embankments along the Yamuna and working in the river basins to protect
Delhi from flood. RTI applicant and environmentalist Mahendra Pandey said, “CPCB stands
exposed as it proudly publishes basin-wise reports of rivers and also claims to have adopted Yamuna for study purposes. I’m glad my RTI pleas
were responded to by the nature when during the recent flood the river,
through temporarily, reclaimed its floodplains.” “DDA changed land use for CWG village from agricultural and wetland to
residential and commercial, but feigns ignorance because through concretisation or regularising illegal settlements in the highly fragile
riverbed, killing the river.” Source: Hindustan Times
Study finds high dose of harmful insecticide in Yamuna water
New Delhi, July 10, 2013: The vegetable cultivation along the Yamuna , that flows for 22 kilometres through the Capital, are watered by the
river, and a study has found high levels of insecticide called Lindane
in the river. The study was done by the National Reference Trace Organics Laboratory
and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in association with the
Ministry of Environment and Forest. "We assessed the Lindane contamination levels in the water with
guideline values stipulated by the United States National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and the New Jersey Department of Environment.
"Lindane is used to control vector-borne diseases and is used as a
mosquito repellent in coils, sprays and fumes. All the areas from Palla
and Okhla were found to be severely polluted with Lindane," he said.As
the study found that the insecticide enters the Yamuna after Wazirabad.
A treatment plant at Wazirabad taps the upstream water and supplies it to the city.
The water flowing downstream of the Wazirabad barrage is untreated or
partially treated domestic and industrial wastewater, and is not supplied to homes. Waste water should undergo complete treatment for
organic contaminants before being discharged into rivers, but the rule
is hardly followed in case of the Yamuna River. As many as 22 open
drains dump nearly 1,900 million litres of sewage in the river every day.
Lindane in the Yamuna River poses a serious health risk to Delhiites, as
well as the river's aquatic life and vegetation. If not washed properly
before being cooked, the chemical can remain in the vegetables and fruits grown on the river's floodplains and enter the human body.
Residents of settlements along the river use the contaminated water for
washing, cooking, bathing and drinking, and are susceptible to diseases. Over time, the insecticide can also percolate into the soil on Yamuna's
floodplains and contaminate the vegetables and fruits grown there, doctors warn.
Lindane can further contaminate the grass near the river and can enter the human body when we drink milk of cows and buffaloes feeding on this
grass.Additionally, Lindane can enter our bodies when we eat fish contaminated by the insecticide.
Delhi Doctors focus on saving Yamuna
New Delhi, June 4, 2013: They spend the week inside laboratories working on research projects to
identify new advancements in the field of medicine. But every Saturday, they leave behind their lab coats and focus their attention on saving
the lifeline of the national capital the Yamuna. This group of young medical professionals from Delhi's
Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) are stretching the boundaries of their
oaths, as they work towards cleaning the dying river. Starting April 11 this year, under the leadership of Dr Vivek Dixit , senior research fellow in MAMC Medicine department, this small group
has already cleaned four banks of Yamuna — near Okhla, ISBT and two ghats
near ITO. The group meets at least three weekends of a month. "Every day, we drive via the ITO bridge to work. And every day we would
see people dumping garbage packed in polythene bags in the river. It is so absurd that as residents of this city, we have got so used to the
sight of the dirty Yamuna," Dr Dixit says. Armed with shovels, spades and trowels, the group gets dressed up in
surgical caps, sanitised gloves and protective foot gear. All curious onlookers are welcomed to join in.
The job is a tedious one. Every doctor digs through the piles of garbage, separating plastic and polythene from water hyacinths, trying
to salvage idols of gods and goddesses, and other long-forgotten memorabilia.
"We do inform the municipal corporation authorities and the local police. But so far, they have not sent reinforcements. So, we use
whatever crude tools we manage to gather and remove the garbage. It is
hard work, but immensely satisfying," Vinay Singh, a research students, says. Source: The Indian Express
Metro chokes Yamuna with debris
Delhi, May 27, 2013: The cool and swift Metro ride that has changed the way Delhi commutes
has a dark side as well. It uprooted thousands of trees. The major infrastructure boost also meant that the already dying Yamuna river was
choked further with huge quantities of concrete -- all debris from Metro
sites. By its own admission, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has over
the years dumped in the riverbed 50,400 metric tonnes of debris equivalent to around 8,000-9,000 truckloads. DMRC managing director Mangu Singh has, in an affidavit filed before the
National Green Tribunal, promised that the construction and demolition waste would be shifted to a processing unit at Burari in west Delhi by
August 15 and no waste generated in the Phase III expansion will be dumped along the Yamuna.
The DMRC has admitted that 10,000 metric tonnes of debris had been
deposited at a site near Sarai Kale Khan on the western bank of the Yamuna. The site is located only 108 metres from the river. The DMRC has
also promised that the entire construction and demolition waste from
that site will be removed by August 15. The affidavit says the corporation is in the process of hiring an agency for the clean-up.
“As much as 400 metric tonnes of concrete blocks are lying near Yamuna
Bank Metro station on the eastern bank. Blocks are being broken. An approach road is being made for their removal,” the affidavit says. At
a site near Shashtri Park on the eastern bank, 350 metres from the river, 40,000 metric tonnes of debris has been deposited.
“We have started the removal. Around 30,000 metric tonnes will be removed by May 31 and the rest 10,000 by June 30,” Singh promised.
The tribunal had asked various agencies, including the DMRC, to come clean
on the debris they had dumped in the riverbed and the time-bound plan for removal. Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, on whose petition
the National Green Tribunal began the hearing last year, said, “Our only
concern is that removal should be done before the monsoon”.Source: Hindustan Times
National Green Tribunal directs authorities to demolish illegal structures on Yamuna
New Dehi, May 21, 2013: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on
Monday directed authorities to demolish all unauthorised structures erected on the river bed and flood
plains of Yamuna in Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The tribunal also ordered removal
of such constructions from the banks of Hindon, the 400-km-long tributary of
Yamuna. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar took serious
note of allegations that the floodplains have been encroached with concrete and permanent structures that are bound to cause ecological
havoc in the form of floods etc.
"All illegal and unauthorised structures existing in the floodplains and
river beds of Yamuna and Hindon rivers in Haryana, Delhi and UP to be
demolished," it said. The bench also sought action taken reports from ministry of environment
and forest, ministry of water resources, governments of Haryana, Delhi
and Uttar Pradesh, UP irrigation department and UP Police on the petition highlighting the massive and fast-rising concretisation on the
river beds and floodplains of Yamuna and Hindon. The tribunal also directed the authorities to file a report within four
weeks on whether any government department had issued NOC for constructions in the said floodplains and river beds.
Source: India Today
Signature campaign against Yamuna dam
NEW DELHI, April 24, 2013: A statement signed by eminent lawyers, activists, groups and
individuals has been sent to the Prime Minister, vice chairman of the planning commission, the ministry of environment and forests and the
minister of water resources, protesting against the construction of the Lakhwar Dam on the Yamuna in the Upper Yamuna River Basin in Dehradun district.
The dam will be 204m high with a storage capacity of 580 million cubic
meters. This will lead to submergence of 1,385.2 hectare which will include 868.08 hectare forest land and more than 50 villages. The
project also involves a 300MW underground power plant, an 86m high Vyasi
dam with a 120MW underground power plant and a barrage at Katapathar. The letter says: "The project has not undergone basic, credible
environment or social appraisal in any participatory manner. It doesn't have legally valid environment or forest clearance. There has not been
any cumulative impact assessment of existing, under construction and planned dams and hydro-projects in the Yamuna system. There hasn't been
any credible assessment about options for the project. The project is to
come up in an seismically active area, prone to flash floods and also prone to erosion and land slides... ."
The signatories to the letter, which include Ramaswamy Iyer, former union water resources secretary of Delhi, Medha Patkar, Prashant
Bhushan, Vandana Shiva and Rajendra Singh of Tarun Bharat Sangh, have
asked the concerned agencies and governments to stall the project. Source: Times of India
Regularising illegal colonies final nail in river’s coffin
New Delhi, April 20, 2013: Regularising illegal colonies that have come up on the Yamuna
floodplains will prove to be the last nail in the river’s coffin, environmentalists fear.
Despite the river being nearly dead, DDA is now planning to redraw the zone ‘O’ of the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021 on the directions of its
chairman and Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna’s office. Redrawing the map would mean that colonies such as Sonia
and some villages with a total built-up area of 2,000 hectares can be
taken out of riverbed zone and regularised. The total riverbed runs into about 10,000 hectares.
Officer on special duty to the L-G, Ranjan Mukherjee, said, “Colonies
such as Sonia Vihar are already segregated from the riverbed through embankments. These colonies are very old and have been in existence for
nearly 50 years,” he said. Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, who on Wednesday shot a letter to
Khanna, asking him to not to regularise these settlements, told HT, “The government’s message is it’s okay to encroach and kill the river.” No
construction activity is allowed in the riverbed defined as “zone O” in MPD.
Water body activist Vinod Jain said, “The government wants to appease a
potential vote bank at the cost of an already dying river.” The L-G office said these colonies were 40 years old and cannot be uprooted.
“But the government should have thought about this earlier,” Jain said.
The L-G office said residents had already created embankments, so regularising these colonies wouldn’t make much difference to the river.
“Embankments don’t change a river’s character. Regularisation of these colonies will ncourage encroachment,” Misra said
“We wonder what wrong had those thousands of slum clusters done that
they were uprooted from the riverbed between 2004 and 2006. Law should be applied equally to all,” Misra said.
“And if these people (for whatever reasons) can’t be such summarily evicted, then at least do not provide them a legit tag. Otherwise more
and more people would defile the riverbed in the hope that some day in the future would see legitimisation of their illegal act,” he said. Source: Hindustan Times
SC is taking cleaning of Yamuna 'very seriously', says CJI Altamas Kabir
New Delhi, April 14, 2013 (PTI): Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on Friday said the Supreme Court is taking "very seriously" the issue of cleaning Yamuna
river. "This is something which courts, in particular the Supreme Court is taking very very seriously and, particularly the river Yamuna, we are
taking it very seriously," the CJI said. Justice Kabir was addressing the students at Jamia Milia Islamia University at the inaugural function
of 4th National Moot Court Competition in which 34 teams from various law universities from across the county are participating.
Referring to the statement of Pro Vice Chancellor Syed Mohammad Rashid on Yamuna, he said, "It has been referred that the mighty Yamuna is just
a dirty drain. There are various plans to clean it, the first being the setting up of more sewage treatment plants on the bank of the river."
The CJI touched the topic of cleaning of Yamuna on the "impassioned prayer" of the Pro Vice Chancellor that the courts must do something
regarding water crisis in the country and the situation of Yamuna river as it passes through Delhi.
"Living in Delhi, one must be knowing what the population of the city is like and the entire sewage is coming to Yamuna. As a result Yamuna is
becoming chocked. "There are plans for bypass canals which would be directed to the Sewage Treatment Plants where the
sewage water would be treated and then let into the river," he added. The CJI said the cleaning method would be like a bypass surgery where the middle path is
closed but the sideways are open and then gradually the middle path is cleaned out.
CJI said there are plans for bypass canals which would be directed to the STPs where the sewage water would be treated and then let into the river.
Speaking on the occasion, he also advised the law students to be ethical
and adopt sincerity, care, compassion and integrity in their professional life. The CJI also emphasised on the importance of
alternate dispute redressal mechanisms like legal aid, arbitration and mediation
10,000 truckloads of trash choking Yamuna
New Delhi, April 4, 2013: The Yamuna is in a huge mess, with 90,000 cubic metres of debris and
other wastes on its banks — about as much as 10,000 truckloads. The Delhi government estimates that the entire clean-up operation will cost
around Rs. 2.5 crore at Rs. 2,500 per truck. A committee formed by the national green tribunal (NGT) has ordered the
Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the Uttar Pradesh government to remove all wastes by May 31.
The waste dumped consists of construction and demolition debris,
garbage, polythene, organic and green wastes. The main culprits are builders, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and other construction
agencies in the Capital. Members of the committee headed by the secretary of the Union ministry
of environment and forests V Rajagopalan inspected the banks and discovered that there was 37,000 cubic metres of waste on the eastern
bank and 53,000 cubic metres on the western bank. Invoking the ‘polluter pays’ principle, NGT chairman justice Satyendra
Kumar said agencies need to remove debris from their jurisdiction, but they have to recover the cost from whoever had dumped it.
Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, on whose petition the NGT began hearing the case a year ago, said, “The problem is you cannot shift
pollutants from one river zone to another. The DMRC has two dumping sites — one at Sarai Kale Khan and another at
Shastri Park.” According to Misra, the problem arises as both Sarai Kale Khan and Shastri Park are in a river zone and therefore are not approved debris
dumping sites as they have not been approved by the central pollution control board.
The NGT committee has said in case there are space constraints at these
two sites, the debris has to be taken to a site in Burari, in north Delhi. Another problem is that Delhi Police do not allow trucks carrying waste
from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana into the Capital. "The NGT committee has asked Delhi Police to make an exception and allow
these trucks if they enter Delhi for removal and not for dumping," said Misra.Source: Hindustan Times
Government Pledges to Clean Up Yamuna River
NEW DELHI, March 17, 2013: Confronted with thousands of angry protesters, the Indian government promised this week to clean up the filthy Yamuna River, which
flows through Delhi. India’s minister of water resources, Harish Rawat, has promised that the government will have a blueprint for a river cleanup program and to map
out construction of sewage interception drains within two months. Mr.Rawat made the pledge late Wednesday night to protesters who had amassed
in an open field after a march to Delhi. “These are very complex demands,” Mr. Rawat said on Friday. “But we have accepted them as they
suggested and we will try to fulfill them as soon as possible.” More than half of Delhi’s sewage flows untreated into the
Yamuna, ruining it for farmers and wildlife downriver. The 22-kilometer (14-mile) stretch of the river that flows through Delhi has a dissolved
oxygen content, a measure of a river’s health and ability to support life, of zero in some areas.
Protestors who marched from Mathura, Uttar Pradesh to New Delhi supporting the “Save Yamuna” river campaign, gathered in the national
capital on Tuesday. Yamuna Rakshak Dal, an umbrella organization of religious, cultural and
farmer groups, organized a 12-day march to Delhi of thousands of people from nearby areas to protest the pollution.
“The Yamuna pollution is affecting farmers seriously in many ways,” Bhanu Pratap Singh, president of the Indian Farmers Union and a protester, said.
“Because of less water and polluted water, our productivity has come down sharply” and
costs have gone up, he said. “Earlier because of fresh water, the wild animals like antelope and wild pigs used to live on marsh land,” Mr. Singh said. “Now because of river
pollution, those animals do not live in the marsh. They come to our fields and destroy our crops.”
The Indian government has promised since the 1990s to clean up the
Yamuna, and dedicated millions of dollars The government has promised that 250 cubic feet per second of fresh
river water will flow beyond Delhi and that it will construct 22 kilometers of sewage interception drains along the river.
However, the government has not given a written and signed copy of the agreement to protesters, he said. “You have to trust the government.
” he said.
Clean Yamuna march to Delhi to begin Friday
MATHURA, March 1, 2013: At least "100,000 bhakts (religious devotees)" will turn out for a
10-day march to Delhi that begins from here Friday to demand that the river Yamuna be cleaned up. The organisers say traffic would be confined to one carriageway of the
extremely busy National Highway-1 that links this city to the national capital.
At the Chatikara starting point, a tented township has come up to lodge tens of thousands of activists. Mathura's Jai Gurudev ashram has also
joined the movement and taken the responsibility of feeding the activists. The Bhartiya Kisan Union
(Bhanu group) has mobilised thousands of farmers to join the march.
The demands include the release of a minimum quantity of water into the
Yamuna round the year from the Hathini Kund barrage, some 100 km upstream of New Delhi, and effective checks on drains in the national
capital that dump pollutants, effluents and sewer waste into the river -
literally turning it into one huge drain. For the past one year, scores of NGOs and groups of sadhus and babas
have been actively mobilising support for the march in the hope of awakening the powers that be.
"The polluted water that flows in the Yamuna is not fit for human consumption. It's also a threat to agriculture and is poisoning our
underground reserves," said Ashwini Mishra, an activist in Agra .
Shravan Kumar Singh, vice president of the Braj Mandal Heritage
Conservation Society said: "The polluted Yamuna is being seen as a major threat to the Taj
Mahal also, because its foundation is being affected by the toxic waters."
'Wake Up Agra' president Shishir Bhagat took out a rally two days ago to
mobilise support for the Yamuna clean-up efforts. Vrindavan and Mathura, as also Goverdhan and Barsana, are full of
posters and banners appealing to the people to join the march to save their life-line.
Yamuna has been the repository of arts, culture, architecture, history
and the Hinduism's Bhakti movement. Yamuna activists say millions of rupees have gone down the gutter in the two Yamuna Action Plans which
have not made any discernible change to the river system that sustains life and agriculture affecting millions of people in the three states of
Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The Supreme Court has expressed its extreme displeasure that
despite the creation of a Yamuna Development Authority and Rs.12,000 crore (over $2 billion) having been spent, the river has been reduced to a drain and
its waters are unfit for drinking or even bathing. Source: The Times of India
SC to take a second look at DTC depot near Yamuna
New Delhi, February 6, 2013:
The Supreme Court has decided to take a "second look" and examine if the DTC bus depot opposite Millennium Park could continue, amid the claims
of threat to Yamuna due to its construction on the river flood plain. A bench led by Justice H L Dattu issued notices to the government, Delhi
Transport Corporation, Delhi Development Authority and others on a special leave petition filed against the Delhi High Court judgment in
September last year. "We would want to take a second look at the matter. We deem it right.
Let notices be issued," the bench said, while admitting the petition by environmentalist Anand Arya.
The Delhi High Court had last year disposed of two PILs, including one
by Arya, against the bus depot near the Nizamuddin Bridge. It gave six months to the government for changing the land-use after amending the
Master Plan. The High Court said relocation of depot will happen only if the government fails to amend the Master Plan. It said concerns of
threat to environment can be addressed at the time of change in Master Plan, as the amendment would require issuing a notice to the public and inviting objections.
Arya then moved in appeal before the apex court. Appearing for him,
senior advocate Jayant Bhushan contended that the High Court order amounted to permitting the unlawful existence of bus depot on the ground
that the law might change in future. During the short argument, Bhushan asked for an interim stay on the High
Court order and that no fresh construction is carried out. The apex court refrained from passing any interim direction,
saying would examine the issue first. In the petition, Arya said the High Court was wrong in not calling for
the removal of the depot when it was an admitted fact that its current usage was contrary to the Master Plan. According to the Master Plan, the
site is on Zone O, which is a green area. The petition said the High Court ignored the fact that the site was
allotted to DTC for temporary parking of buses during the Commonwealth Games and was never handed back. Also, there was no DUAC clearance for
use of land on the river floodplain, the petition said. Arya said any construction in Yamuna river bed would
permanently destroy the ecology of the river and its ground water recharge ability. Source: expressindia.com
NGT bans dumping of rubble in Yamuna, directs its removal
NEW DELHI, February 2, 2013: Concerned over "serious threat" of water pollution of
Yamuna river and change of its course, the National Green Tribunal has banned dumping of debris,
including solid waste, on its banks and directed governments of Delhi and UP to remove the rubble immediately. "Debris is being thrown on the river bank and it is a
serious threat to the change of course as well as water pollution of river Yamuna. Certain directions need to be issued forthwith in order to
ensure that pollution of Yamuna is prevented and the debris from the site removed.
"We hereby issue an injunction restraining anybody, any person,
authority from throwing any debris of any kind including solid wastes on the river bank of Yamuna or the water body near river
Yamuna," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said. "The State of Uttar
Pradesh, Delhi Development Authority, Government of NCT Delhi and East Delhi Municipal Corporation shall forthwith start removing
debris from the river bank of Yamuna," the full bench, comprising judicial member Justice P Jyothimani and experts
members D K Agrawal, G K Pandey and A R Yousuf, said. The Tribunal has also directed the authorities to dump the debris at a
site in Gazipur which is exclusively meant for dumping of municipal solid wastes.
Referring to the principle of 'polluter pays' the NGT has also directed the authorities to recover the costs of removing the debris from the
persons, including a company, partnership, sole proprietorship and individuals, who dump it.
The Tribunal's directions came on the plea filed by one Manoj Mishra, who has opposed the dumping of rubble on the
banks of river Yamuna. Source: The Economic Times
Minority community to support 'Save Yamuna' campaign
Mathura, January 25, 2013
(PTI): In a move certain to boost efforts to save the endangered river, members of various minority bodies in the city have decided to lend their support to the 'Save
Yamuna' campaign. "We will not only offer prayers after namaz on the birthday of
Mohammad tomorrow but also participate in the awareness march which coincides with the occasion," a joint statement issued by the leaders of
the community in the city, said. Among those who have announced their commitment to protecting the river
were Dr Z Hasan and Dr Unus Qureshi, president and vice-president, respectively, of the Shahi Masjid Eidgah committee and Hazi
Yameen, president of the Jama Masjid Committee.
Badale Qureshi, vice-president of the Zameetul Qureshi Trust, Md
Taufiq, manager of the Islamia Inter College and Md Riyazuddeen, president of
the Sankalp welfare Society, too, have joined in the endeavour. The new allies for the conservation of the river assured Kamal Kant
Upmanyua, the patron of the Yamuna Rakshak Dal (YRD), that they would now actively work towards ensuring a cleaner
Yamuna. YRD sources, meanwhile, said that they have lined up awareness drives to
press for conservation of the river. "It has been decided that 5 lakh YRD activists would march to
Hathini Kund on March 1, to pressurise the Centre for regular release of water from Hathini Kund into the river," said a member.
Yamuna Action Plan Board discusses pollution control measures
MATHURA, January 18, 2013: The Yamuna Action Plan Board
today discussed implementation of various measures for reducing pollution level in the river in Mathura stretch.
Giving details of the meeting, nodal officer Avadhesh Tewari said the
Mathura Vrindavan Development Authority has been asked to give nod to housing projects only after ensuring their
compliance with the prescribed cleanliness norms.
"A three-member team will check the existence and functioning of
effluent treatment plants in vibrator units," Tewari said. The authorities, along with the State Pollution Control Board, will
check functioning of illegal slaughter houses in Manoharpura area, board member
Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi said. "Order for random sampling of drain water flowing through Manoharpura
area and discharged into the river have also been issued," Chaturvedi said.
Taking exception to direct discharge of sewage water from new drains in Vrindavan area, the board also ordered for connection of these drains
into new sewer line at the earliest, he said. A meeting of various stakeholders will be called after January 26 to
ensure proper implementation of ban on polythene, Chaturvedi added. Source: The Times of India
Yamuna`s slow death documented in film
Delhi, January 10, 2013 (IANS): Yamuna`s slow death documented in film Agra: An hour-long film,
‘Yamuna ka Dard’ (The Pain of the Yamuna), was released here Wednesday in a bid to highlight the pollution in the river and the likely damage it could
cause to the Taj Mahal. Produced by students of journalism and mass communication of the Central
Hindi Institute, the film was released by Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.
"The Yamuna is dying a slow, painful death. It is not only the victim of pollutants discharged by upstream cities and industries, but also of
criminal negligence and intriguing silence from pollution control bodies," he said.
Poonam Chauhan, who scripted the film, said: "This is not exactly a
documentary. We have a proper story line, inspired from mythology. We
have interlaced the script with lots of interviews with both common people and experts."