Delhi: Lack of river zone angers activists
In the wake of the flooding of the Yamuna river and subsequent fears of an Uttarakhand-like scenario in Delhi, environmentalists have lashed out against MoEF for not notifying the River Regulation Zone. Nivedita Khandekar reports.india Updated: Jun 20, 2013 23:58 IST
In the wake of the flooding of the Yamuna river and subsequent fears of an Uttarakhand-like scenario in Delhi, environmentalists have lashed out against the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for not notifying the River Regulation Zone (RRZ).
The RRZ, under the Environment Protection Act, will help in regulating activities in the floodplains of the Yamuna and other rivers across India. The proposal is currently gathering dust at the MoEF.
The Yamuna in Delhi has been flowing above the danger mark (204 metres) for the past two days. Thousands of people residing near the banks have been displaced and their properties inundated.
Saying that the flood of 2013 “calls for serious introspection at all levels”, professor Brij Gopal, coordinator with the Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia, drew attention to how earlier the experts in MOEF were mostly concerned about pollution when it came to rivers.
“Initial environment impact assessment regulations bothered more about development project and not ecosystems these projects destroyed or affected. But even after including certain river conservation-related activities in the tenth plan, none was pursued or implemented till date,” Gopal said, in a letter to environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan.
Pointing to the large-scale encroachment of the river banks, Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network of Dams River and People said: “Space is required for the river to flow round the year. Also, the government needs to identify the kind of activities which can be allowed near rivers.”
Manoj Misra, convener of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, has appealed to “all those who matter in the state” and who “reside in Lutyens’ Delhi” to visit the river in spate and see for themselves why floodplains are important and why any structure ‘on’ the river is unnatural.