The Centre has decided not to implement a riverfront development plan prepared by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Instead, it formed the panel to "critically examine and review" the DDA plan and submit an improved one by October 28.
With the task of removal of thousands of truckloads of debris from the riverbed nearing completion, riverbank development is the next task, which will be monitored by the National Green Tribunal. The tribunal will also decide the timeframe for the project's execution after the final plan is submitted.
The panel formed by the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) at the behest of the tribunal is headed by CR Babu, director emeritus, Centre for Management of Degraded Ecosystems (DU). Professor (retired) Brij Gopal of JNU and professor AK Gosain of IIT-Delhi will be its members.
A note issued by the national river conservation directorate of the MoEF says, "The panel will suggest steps so that the (DDA's) plan could be improved further keeping in mind the environmental concerns for the river. It will finalise the plan after taking all agencies concerned on board. It will also consider the observations of the Supreme Court. The tenure of the committee will be one month." HT has a copy of the note.
The DDA's plan aims to conserve and restore biodiversity of the Yamuna and integrate it with public recreation spaces that Delhi needs.
The DDA has conducted a study of all natural features and site conditions for the development of the 46-km Yamuna banks.
Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, on whose petition the National Green Tribunal is monitoring the removal of debris from the riverbed, said, “DDA must think beyond landscaping and concrete structures. Even if they use jute structures to set up these parks, as concrete is not allowed along the riverbed, massive manpower and expenditure will be needed for their maintenance. We're happy that the expert panel will review DDA's plan."
Making a case for agro-biodiversity, he said, “We demand adoption of agro-biodiversity to let farmers do their job and protect the riverbed in the most natural way and without least interference. Legitimate farmers are the best keepers of the riverbed as can be gauged from the fact that there is little or no dumped debris in areas where active farming is taking place.”