The Delhi government launched the R200-crore Yamuna riverfront project at the second annual ‘Yamuna Aarti’ event aarti at the Dhai Pusta, in Sonia Vihar, on Tuesday.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal praised the efforts made by water and tourism minister Kapil Mishra for organising the event in their bid to clean the river Yamuna and promote tourism in Delhi. “This Yamuna Aarti has been made possible by his (Mishra’s) efforts, his perseverance and his crazed enthusiasm. He has also devised a plan to ensure the cleaning of Yamuna,” he said.
The Yamuna Riverfront Development initiative has plans to re-imagine the river banks at Sonia Vihar. The project aims to beautify the riverfront. A video release, which showcased the plans, stated that trees and other plants would be planted in the area which would help decontaminate the polluted waters. It also showed plans of separate ghats dedicated to idol immersions and aartis, so that these activities do not pollute the larger body of water.
The eco-friendly plans also feature dedicated cycling and pedestrian paths. The new riverfront will also have a new wrestling ground, for the wrestling events that usually take place at the floodplains near the river Yamuna.
The new plans not only aim to clean the river Yamuna, but also are a part of larger efforts to promote tourism in the region. As such, the government has declared that a rowing arena of international standard will also be a part of the new and improved riverfront. Bird watching and nature trails will also be facilitated.
The plans also stated that only environment friendly, bio-degradable materials would be used. It would feature no structure made of concrete.
Kejriwal also reminded voters of the efforts made by the AAP government top help reduce electricity charges in Delhi. “Despite doubts, we reduced the rates of electricity in the city within a month of being elected. I have been travelling all around India; and I have seen that Delhi offers electricity at the lowest rates,” he said.
Referring to a high court ruling which deemed that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) did not have the powers to audit private power distribution companies, after AAP alleged that they were inflating their expenses, Kejriwal also added that he was confident they would win on appeal at the Supreme Court. “After that, your (the citizen’s) electricity bill will be just a quarter of current rates,” he claimed.
He also said that despite interference from the Central government, his government was able to provide water to 260 unauthorised colonies in Delhi. He also referred to his troubled relations with lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, when he said that he has to plead and sometimes even pick fights to get things done.
“But I fight for you. I fight to ensure you have affordable electricity. I fight to get you water,” he added. He also reiterated his earlier allegations that Najeeb Jung had “stalled” clearing the minimum wages files at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He alleged that the BJP is worried that his “mass appeal” would increase in Delhi if he were to implement the reforms in a timely manner.