Why should the farmers be allowed to grow vegetables on the land along polluted Yamuna, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked on Tuesday while refusing to permit a farmer to carry out cultivation on his farm along the river.
“Why should you (farmer) be allowed to cultivate vegetables on the land along Yamuna? Do you even know how much polluted the river is? It contains heavy metals and other high pollutants. People buy these vegetables from you and fall sick by eating them. Delhi Jal Board is not going to clean the river and we are not going to permit anything on the river. We wish you could understand the impact of the produce on the health of people,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson, justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The observations came during the hearing of a plea filed by a local farmer seeking NGT’s nod for cultivation on the ground that the only source of his livelihood was farming.
Refusing to modify its earlier order prohibiting cultivation of edible crops and vegetables on the floodplains of Yamuna here, the green panel said no activity can be permitted in that area till the time Yamuna is restored and made pollution-free.
The NGT in January last year had prohibited farming on Yamuna banks, saying “it is an established fact that presently, vegetables, fodder grown and allied projects at the flood plain of river Yamuna are highly contaminated. Besides containing ingredients of high pollutants, such produce is even found to contain metallic pollutants.”
The direction was passed during the hearing of a plea by Delhi Peasants Multipurpose Society and others who had moved the tribunal last year with a prayer that they be permitted to carry on agricultural and farming activities on Yamuna banks.
The farmers’ body had contended that they do not use polluted water from Yamuna for cultivation of crops and instead use fresh water extracted out of borewells for irrigation purposes.
It had also averred that there was no specific report submitted before the Tribunal that any particular pollutant was found in the samples collected from crops cultivated by the members of the society.