Regularising illegal colonies that have come up on the Yamuna floodplains will prove to be the last nail in the river’s coffin, environmentalists fear.
Despite the river being nearly dead, DDA is now planning to redraw the zone ‘O’ of the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021 on the directions of its chairman and Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna’s office.
Redrawing the map would mean that colonies such as Sonia Vihar, Jaitpur and some villages with a total built-up area of 2,000 hectares can be taken out of riverbed zone and regularised. The total riverbed runs into about 10,000 hectares.
Officer on special duty to the L-G, Ranjan Mukherjee, said, “Colonies such as Sonia Vihar are already segregated from the riverbed through embankments. These colonies are very old and have been in existence for nearly 50 years,” he said.
Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, who on Wednesday shot a letter to Khanna, asking him to not to regularise these settlements, told HT, “The government’s message is it’s okay to encroach and kill the river.” No construction activity is allowed in the riverbed defined as “zone O” in MPD.
Water body activist Vinod Jain said, “The government wants to appease a potential vote bank at the cost of an already dying river.” The L-G office said these colonies were 40 years old and cannot be uprooted. “But the government should have thought about this earlier,” Jain said.
The L-G office said residents had already created embankments, so regularising these colonies wouldn’t make much difference to the river. “Embankments don’t change a river’s character. Regularisation of these colonies will encourage encroachment,” Misra said.
“We wonder what wrong had those thousands of slum clusters done that they were uprooted from the riverbed between 2004 and 2006. Law should be applied equally to all,” Misra said.
“And if these people (for whatever reasons) can’t be such summarily evicted, then at least do not provide them a legit tag. Otherwise more and more people would defile the riverbed in the hope that some day in the future would see legitimisation of their illegal act,” he said.