The National Green Tribunal has issued notices to various departments of the Centre, and the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana over a petition claiming the floodplains of the Yamuna and Hindon rivers have been encroached upon with permanent concrete structures.
Amita Khemka, counsel for the petitioners, said, “These structures are bound to cause ecological havoc in the form of floods in the vicinity. The encroachment is rapidly polluting the two rivers.” The tribunal will hear the matter on April 23.
“Government authorities have in the past carried out several drives to free the floodplains of encroachment but such efforts halted midway because of political pressure, particularly from Lucknow,” said an official in Noida.
The petitioner alleged that land mafia has usurped the ecologically fragile riverbed in connivance with government officials to set up colonies, farmhouses and stone-crushing units.
“The land mafia has sold off almost the entire stretch of the Hindon riverbed, especially in Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar districts of UP. Activities such as construction of roads, erection of poles, laying of electric wires and fixing streetlights are on,” the petition alleged.
“Several thousand acres of Yamuna floodplain land has been similarly colonised and encroached upon in connivance with officials. The Delhi government itself has built the Commonwealth Games Village and the DTC bus depot on the eco-sensitive Yamuna banks,” it alleges.
Saying that the right to healthy environment of residents is being violated by the concretisation of eco-sensitive floodplains, the petition has requested the tribunal to issue orders for demolition of all the structures and dumping of debris off the river zone.
The petition sought penal action against people found guilty of encroachment. It seeks direction to agencies concerned to strictly enforce agriculture land use in flood plains.