Two structures standing tall on Yamuna river bed --- Akshardham Temple constructed without environment clearance and Commonwealth Games Villages that got environment approval --- should not have been built there, Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said.
Akshardham Temple was constructed during the NDA regime and Commonwealth Games village during the UPA government’s tenure on fragile Yamuna riverbed despite protests by the environment groups.
“I think they should not have come up there,” Ramesh said, while making it clear that no such constructions should be allowed on Yamuna riverbed in future.
To ensure that such violations don’t take place in future, the ministry is coming up with River Regulation Zone (RRZ) guidelines that would impose restrictions on development at the riverfronts across India.
Ramesh made it clear that Akshardham temple spread over 30 acres on the riverbed never applied for the environment clearance but expressed helplessness in initiating any action. “It has already happened. We cannot do anything now. We cannot demolish the temple now”.
The temple, a popular religious and tourist spot in Delhi was inaugurated on November 6, 2005.
The Commonwealth Games Village, next to Akshardham temple in east Delhi, got environment clearance from the ministry, which was later upheld by the Supreme Court.
The minister was critical of his own ministry when he said that the village should not have been given environment clearance. When asked why he did not raise the issue before the games, Ramesh replied it would have created lot of problems in organizing the games.
Both the projects highlighted the typical syndrome of the government violating its own norm in name of public interest.