‘Delhi not doing enough to revive dead Yamuna’

February 21st, 2008 - 10:58 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) Environmentalists and activists Thursday said the Yamuna river is almost “dead” and called upon Delhi’s civil society to come together to save the 55-million-year-old river. “Yamuna is a dead river now and it can not sustain on its own,” Rajendra Singh, activist and Ramon Magsaysay award winner, lamented.

“When illiterate people in areas backward than Delhi can revive five tributaries of the river, the inaction on the part of Delhiites is inexplicable,” Singh, popularly known as India’s “water man”, said.

Rajendra was speaking at a seminar on the future of natural resources of Delhi here. Retired Justice Kuldip Singh, senior journalist Kuldip Nayyar, environmentalists Vikram Soni and Vandana Shiva and lawyer M.C. Mehta were also present on the occasion.

“By constructing the Commonwealth Games Village on Yamuna flood plains, the Delhi government is causing destruction in the name of construction,” he added.

Shiva also rebuked the Delhi government for bidding for the Commonwealth Games and getting into construction frenzy without seeking the public opinion on the issue.

“The Delhi government has been giving ads in the paper about ‘bhagidari’ (public-private partnership). But no community was asked if the trees have to be cut or do the people need flyovers or not. This ‘contractor raj’ (rule of contractors) cannot be the basis of the decision making,” she said.

“If the Commonwealth Games mean death of the city, we cannot let it happen,” she added.

The main source of Yamuna pollution is the sewage drains flowing into the river. A total of 30 drains pour their contents into the river. The major drains flowing into the Yamuna river are Najafgarh, Okhla and Shahadara.

“If two of these drains - Najafgarh and Shahadara - are closed, about 70 percent of problem will be solved,” said Bhure Lal, Chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.

Lal added that around Rs.18 billion ($450 million) spent on cleaning the Yamuna have “gone down the drain” with the river not being able to sustain itself and other life forms.

“The drains should be allowed to operate only in rainy season. And during the off-season they have to be treated and only clean water should be allowed to flow into the river,” Lal suggested as a step to resuscitate the river.

Lawyer Mehta said: “The capital’s environment has lost its carrying capacity with its population of 17 million. The first, second and third master plans aiming at decongesting Delhi have failed due to the nexus of politicians and industrialists.”

“There are enough places in and around Delhi, other than the Yamuna river bed, where the Commonwealth Games Village can be constructed,” he added.

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