Yamuna Bank Metro opens, environmentalists up ante

May 10th, 2009 - 7:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) The Yamuna Bank metro extension, a gateway to the east Delhi metro lines, was opened to the public here Sunday amid anxious attempts by environmental activists to stop further construction as it caused “irreparable damage to the ecology”.
The Indraprastha to Yamuna Bank extension of phase II of the Delhi Metro was opened to commuters from 6 a.m. This station is an important interchange station as the Anand Vihar to Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) corridor and the Noida corridor, in east Delhi, will diverge from it.

Environmentalists and activists have time and again raised concerns about “irreparable damage to the ecology” as a result of the construction work on the river banks.

The 37-hectare Yamuna Bank station and extension is located very close to the river.

Environmental activist Vimlendu Jha claimed that the opening went against the Delhi High Court’s December 2005 order calling for a stay on all construction in the 300 meter periphery of the river.

“To construct in the 300-meter zone from the river is illegal according to the court- appointed Usha Mehra Commission. There is a stay on construction in this area. The DMRC depot station and lines are in this area and opening this defies the stay,” Jha told IANS.

Jha, whose NGO Swecha - We for Yamuna - has run several campaigns to protect the Yamuna from ecological hazard, said he had written a letter of concern to Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna over the opening of the extension to which he had received no response.

Jha is hopeful that the high court hearing scheduled later this month would look into this matter.

DMRC managing director E. Sreedharan inspected the Yamuna Bank station soon after it was opened to the public. He said he “did not understand” how the construction of the stretch had any ecological impact.

“I don’t understand how ecology is factored here. All the structure of the metro line are on water harvesting designs. No pollutants are being released. There is no degradation of the environment,” Sreedharan told reporters.

Jha, however, held that concreting the area along the riverbed is in itself causing lasting damage.

He also said the water used for construction for the extension along the river bed was “exploited from the ground reserve” which too had its implications as it messed up the ecology of the river.

By DMRC’s own submission, water for construction in this stretch comes from “borewells” which they claim has “nothing to do with the river”.

Another issue is the under construction metro colony for DMRC staff. Jha claimed that this construction also goes against the stay.

But DMRC maintained that the allotted land for these staff quarters was further away from the river and has the high court’s nod for construction.

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