A green area as big as 25 football fields in the Yamuna floodplains in northeast Delhi has been flattened in the last decade, an environment group has found, asking the government to take immediate action.
If found true, such heavy deforestation may be bad news for Delhiites who are reeling under spiralling air pollution which has triggered respiratory and cardiac problems in the city. The loss of this green zone, if established, will also shrink the groundwater recharge area.
NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has sent its field report, based on Google Images, to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal “to expose massive deforestation in 25 hectares between 2004 and 2014 in the perhaps only remaining green patch in the upstream of the Wazirabad barrage.”
The river zone (zone o) spread across 9,700 hectares in Delhi is seriously threatened through encroachment and pollution including dumping of municipal waste and debris. But there is also an increasing threat of deforestation of whatever little natural forest is left in the zone o.
“It’s a brazen violation of both the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and the Forest Conservation Act 1980. We have sought a thorough probe and appropriate action against the violators. We seek action to restore the greenery thus lost at the cost of those responsible,” YJA’s Manoj Misra said.
YJA has in its report sent to the government on Tuesday indicated that the “brazen” act has been carried out by some government agency since “ordinary people cannot carry out a systematic clearing in the manner done.”
“A perusal of the Delhi master plan and the approved zonal plan for the 54-km-long and a maximum of 3-km-wide zone O, where the site in question is shown as “greens” proves that the said impugned act is in violation of the DDA Act as well,” Misra said.
The YJA has sought to know how the large scale deforestation in the river zone escaped the scrutiny of DDA officials and if in the know then why the relevant officials remained quiet about the act. Google Images in the YJA’s report point out the deforestation at village Sadatpur Gujran upstream of Wazirabad barrage on the eastern bank. “We’re waiting for the government response,” said Misra.
Despite hundreds of crores of rupees spent, several court cases and government projects, the condition of the Yamuna, which meets Delhi’s 70% drinking water needs, has only worsened.