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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

A Rs 20-crore push to revive 100 hectares of floodplains

The 100 hectares being restored include the 25 hectares where the World Culture Festival was held by the Art of Living Foundation in 2016. Art of Living officials did not respond HT’s queries for a comment.

delhi Updated: Sep 18, 2019 01:34 IST
Risha Chitlangia and Joydeep Thakur
Risha Chitlangia and Joydeep Thakur
New Delhi
The ecological zone will be a 20-25 metre-wide stretch of marsh area along the river and will have floodplain forests and nature trails.
The ecological zone will be a 20-25 metre-wide stretch of marsh area along the river and will have floodplain forests and nature trails. (HT FILE)
         

Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has initiated the process of restoring 100 hectares of the Yamuna floodplains. Its plan comprises the construction of walkways and cycle tracks, development of multiple wetlands, nurseries and a green buffer, up to 300 metres, along the river.

Bids for the Rs 20crore-project are being evaluated and work will be awarded by October, officials said.

DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor said, “We have divided the project into 10 packages. We have taken a bigger area, which includes the site given to Art of Living. The 100-hectare area between National Highway-24 (Barapullah flyover) and DND Flyway will be developed in a time-bound manner.”

The 100 hectares being restored include the 25 hectares where the World Culture Festival was held by the Art of Living Foundation in 2016. Art of Living officials did not respond HT’s queries for a comment.

The proposed site, a senior DDA official said, has been divided into four zones — ecological, human-nature interaction, public recreation and eco-urban linkage.

The ecological zone will be a 20-25 metre-wide stretch of marsh area along the river and will have floodplain forests and nature trails. “The existing wetlands in this area will be deepened and will serve as catchment wetlands,” a DDA official said.

In the human-nature interactive and public recreation zones, the DDA plans to develop large lawns that can be used as congregational spaces for yoga and meditation. It will have water bodies with bridges, a viewing tower or deck and shelters made of bamboo. It will also have multi-purpose trails for cycling and walking.

DDA officials said the eco-urban linkage zone will be
developed along the eastern marginal bund and will have seating spaces.

According to senior DDA official, “Close to 6,000 trees and 20,000 shrubs will be planted in the 100-hectare area and the entire work is likely to be completed within six months.”

Last week, Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal reviewed the entire Yamuna redevelopment plan.

The Art of Living had paid ₹5 crore to the DDA for the restoration of the 25-hectare area, on the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). DDA officials say that fencing of the 25 hectares has been done and plantation work is in progress.

Experts and activists, however, said that the primary focus of the DDA should be on reviving and rejuvenating the floodplains. “The primary focus should be on the rejuvenation of the floodplains and not on fancy things. The court had directed that the floodplains should be rejuvenated and this can only be done when the debris that
was left behind is first, physically removed,” said Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.

Earlier this week, the NGT has also asked the DDA to demarcate the entire floodplains within three months and fence it within another three months before converting the areas into biodiversity parks. The green court also directed the landowning agency to ensure that fruit and vegetable farming on the floodplains is stopped by April 2020, failing which it will be penalised.