Less than a week after the biggest environmental opposition to the Commonwealth Games Village was defeated in the Supreme Court, a rift is wide open in the green camp, threatening the existence of the longest-running environmental opposition to construction on the Yamuna riverbed.
Voices of dissent are emerging in public domain saying that going to the court against the Games village was a blunder that cost the whole fight.
Adding to the whole fiasco, there are allegations of swindling of funds to the tune of $50,000 from assistance the Ford Foundation provided the movement last year.
“We never wanted to go to court. We wanted to do satyagraha (a form of protest),” said Diwan Singh, member of Natural Heritage First, an NGO that co-founded the Yamuna protests two years ago.
This campaign had made Delhi’s lieutenant-governor impose a temporary moratorium on construction on the riverbed in September 2007.
Many groups which co-founded the coalition of NGOs and citizens’ groups that
formed the Yamuna Satyagraha have left.
“It could be that those who filed the court petition were in connivance with the builders to make the whole matter sub-judice,” said environmental activist S.A. Naqvi of NGO Water Workers’ Alliance. “The LG was very active on the... issue. But after the case was filed in November 2007, officials stopped all action saying it was sub-judice.”
One grouse was that a PIL, filed by activist Vinod Jain a month before the Yamuna case, sought legal protection to rivers through a River Regulation Zone, on the lines of Coastal Regulation Zones.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests had prepared a draft on River Regulation Zones in 2002, but never notified it. Jain’s petition demanded the government notify it.
“The petition would have got an approval, possibly a stay on the Commonwealth Games Village. But... the Yamuna case was filed to overshadow my case,” said Jain.
But those who support the way the Yamuna fight was conducted defend their actions.
“Going to court was a consensus. Those who are opposing it now suffer from ‘sour grapes’ syndrome,” said Manoj Misra, the convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan. “As for funding, anyone is free to scruitinise the spending.”