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Bring in corporates to protect Yamuna floodplains, NGT panel recommends

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been asked to explore the idea by the National Green Tribunal (NGT)-appointed Yamuna pollution monitoring committee.

delhi Updated: Jun 19, 2019 07:33 IST
Vatsala Shrangi and Joydeep Thakur
Vatsala Shrangi and Joydeep Thakur
New Delhi
Yamuna,NGT,Yamuna floodplains
Majnu Ka Tilla, along the floodplains, as seen from the Signature bridge.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

To maintain the Yamuna floodplains, a pollution monitoring committee has floated the idea of bringing in business houses to conserve and protect it from encroachment. In exchange, these companies would get the right to advertise on the land.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been asked to explore the idea by the National Green Tribunal (NGT)-appointed Yamuna pollution monitoring committee.

“The DDA under its aegis could consider allotting (not leasing) identified segments to established industrial houses, companies or foundations, who can be permitted to display their logos and signage in lieu of maintenance for 2 - 3 years at a time,” stated minutes of the meeting of the committee, held earlier this month.

The panel, in a bid to stop encroachment and polluting activities along the floodplains, has also asked the DDA, which is the custodian of the river, to consider handing over day-to-day management, which will help increase accountability and achieve better degree of public support in conserving the area.

At present, multiple government agencies are responsible for various functions including sanitation, parking and keeping a check on unauthorised construction, among others duties.

DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor, said, “We are exploring giving some projects to established universities and experts working in this sector. This does not include any private players. We have divided the whole floodplain area into nine to ten projects and tendering for two projects, which have got all sanctions will start soon. The process took time for getting clearances and financial sanctions.”

The monitoring committee has divided the restoration of floodplains area into ten projects.

At present working on one of the projects — portion of the floodplains between Wazirabad and Old Railway Bridge — has found polluting activities going on unabated in the area by residential colonies as well as by vendors.

The NGT panel came down heavily on the management committees of the Tibetan Colony and Majnu Ka Tila, residential settlements along the portion of the floodplains, which have been involved in “haphazard growth, which has been expanding”.

“The area of the floodplains has shops, eateries, vendors and vehicles spread all over. Extensive human activity would make it impossible to keep the river possibly clean. To make the plan sustainable, the DDA must consider establishing a dedicated set-up, which can manage prevention of pollution and encroachment,” it further stated.

The committee has already roped in Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a Delhi-based organisation working on heritage awareness and conservation, to submit wetland development plans along the stretch for restoration.

Besides, the DDA has been tasked with landscaping and developing nature-trails in the area on lines of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, which could be utilised for public participation.

According to experts, handing over maintenance could be a good step provided strict monitoring is done regularly.

Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said, “Handing over protection of segments of floodplains could be a good step in preventing encroachments and further damage to the river. However, the land-owning agency must exercise a lot of caution and monitoring of the activities of the third-party.”

First Published: Jun 19, 2019 03:34 IST