Debris dumped on plains altering Yamuna’s flow
According to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of 2015, any dumping of waste or debris on the Yamuna floodplains is banned and violators could be fined up to Rs50,000.Updated: Aug 01, 2020 00:49 IST
An inspection of the Yamuna floodplains earlier this week by teams of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), accompanied by NGO South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), to check for construction debris dumping has found that the violation has been going on for years and the dumped debris has been “flattened”, thereby raising the level of the plains.
The sites inspected included areas underneath the bridges at Sarai Kale Khan, Mayur Vihar and the Signature Bridge. The SANDRP has made a report of its findings and has said that continuous debris dumping and levelling may affect the flooding pattern of the river.
According to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of 2015, any dumping of waste or debris on the Yamuna floodplains is banned and violators could be fined up to Rs50,000. Earlier this week, the NGT-appointed Yamuna Monitoring Committee had asked the DPCC to conduct an inspection after receiving complaints of debris dumping.
“The floodplain patch of 8,000 square metres underneath the Mayur Vihar bridge, have been raised by two-four feet as a result of dumping of debris, which has been levelled over time by the agencies carrying out construction work along the site,” said Bhim Singh Rawat of SANDRP, who has put together the report.
He added that large pieces of concrete waste, about 70 of them, can be seen on the floodplains. “The debris has been levelled in such a way that it has created a cross-sectional embankment extending up to an active river water channel and this will adversely impact the flow of the river,” he said.
Similarly, at the Sarai Kale Khan site, about 20,000 square metres of the floodplains have been raised and levelled by contractors supplying concrete slabs and other construction material, it said.
“We have used Google Earth images to asses the plains, which reveal significant damages to the original floodplain on account of continuous dumping of construction debris,” said Rawat.
The report further said the Signature Bridge construction company is still occupying about 40,000 square metres of the floodplains for parking and storing equipment.
Officials of the public works department, which is managing Signature Bridge, said some work on the bridge is still pending. “Work is still going on and once it is complete, the equipment it will be removed,” said a senior official, who did not wish to be named.
The Yamuna Monitoring Committee said it has asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is the primary custodian of the floodplains, to give a status report on dumping activities. “We have asked the DDA to submit a response on the complaints received. We are yet to receive the DPCC inspection report,” said a committee member.
A senior DPCC official, who did not wish to be named, said, “We are preparing a report based on the inspection. It will take a day or two to submit it.”
A DDA spokesperson said, “Underneath Signature Bridge, used personal protective equipment kits were found dumped and were removed. At the Sarai Kale Khan site, we found no debris. In order to stop the violation, a permanent barrier has been erected at the entry of the approach road.”
“So far, 190 fines have been issued to violators. CCTV cameras are being installed at different entry/exit points of floodplains from Wazirabad to Jaitpur. Thirty-four cameras have already been installed,” said a senior DDA official, not wishing to be named.
According to experts, continuous dumping and levelling of debris could affect the flow of the river. A K Gosain, professor of civil engineering at IIT-Delhi, said, “Continuous dumping could have huge implications on the river. The river needs a path to flow and when more water comes during the monsoon, if the path is not available, it has a tendency to cut through wherever it finds loose soil. Hence,the path of the river should not be blocked even at a minimal level.”