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Dredging of the waste-filled riverbed, plantation along banks, promotion of eco-tourism, creation of wetlands as recreational spots, removal of waste dumps — these are some of the suggestions offered by a court-appointed panel to restore and beautify the degraded Yamuna river in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
The panel, which submitted its report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday, called for the formation of an apex body and framing of statutes to enforce speedy and effective execution of the plan.
The panel said the river had turned into a sewer and its channels along with the floodplains had been reduced to an 800-metre strip at places.
The committee chaired by Shashi Shekhar, additional secretary of ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), and Balvinder Kumar, vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority (DDA), also called for a scientific study before fresh water flow could be infused into the river.
The tribunal will go through the report — based on inputs from experts Brij Gopal and AK Gosain — before it issues directions to government agencies. The next hearing is slated for September 4.
“Steps should be taken under the DDA Act, 1957, the Environment Protection Act, 1986, besides Uttar Pradesh government rules to provide legal protection to the river zone as eco-sensitive area,” the report said.
The committee said an apex body under the chairmanship of Delhi’s Lt Governor should be formed to oversee the protection, restoration and beautification of the floodplains within Delhi and UP.
“The body will look into issues like fresh water flow and restoration of natural storm water drains and will have officials from the union ministries of environment, water resources, central ground water board, DDA and governments of Delhi and UP,” it said.
Mythological (Nigambodh Ghat) as well as historical and heritage sites (Qudsia, Yamuna Bazar ghats, Majnu Ka Tila, Samadhis, Shalimar Fort, Old Railway Bridge, etc) within the active flood plain should be developed with care to minimize damage to the river zone, it said.