Debris dumped on Yamuna floodplains and river bed, NGT asks pollution body to file report
The National Green Tribunal (NGT)-appointed Yamuna Monitoring Committee has asked the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to submit a report on the dumping of waste, including material used for manufacturing face masks, and construction debris at two sites on the Yamuna floodplains that could be “constricting” the flow of the river.
The waste has been dumped underneath the Signature Bridge and the Sarai Kale Khan flyover. NGT asked for the report after an NGO, South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), posted pictures and videos of the dump on the floodplains.
As per an NGT order of 2015, any kind of dumping of waste or construction and demolition debris in and around the floodplains is prohibited. Anyone who is found violating the order is liable to pay an environmental compensation charge of up to ₹50,000 under the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
A team of DPCC environmental engineers inspected the two sites on Monday. “We are inspecting the sites for the violations both on the floodplains as well as the river bed. We may continue till Tuesday, after which we will be able to submit a report,” said a senior DPCC official, who did not wish to be named.
According to activists who flagged the issue, discarded material used for making face masks was dumped on the floodplains beneath the Signature Bridge.
“Besides, there is a 3-4 foot tall mound of debris on the floodplains, some of which has toppled into the river bed underneath the Sarai Kale Khan bridge. There is so much debris that an active river channel is now disconnected from the main river. The debris was dumped recently by government agencies, which have been engaged in construction activity around the river,” said Bhim Singh Rawat of SANDRP.
He added that the situation regarding bridges on Yamuna river in Delhi is alarming as so far 25 road bridges, including three barrages-cum-bridges, four Metro bridges and two railway bridges have come up on the river while the debris has continuously been dumped on the floodplains. It is cleared after much effort and resurfaces with every new construction.
The two-member Yamuna Monitoring Committee comprising former Delhi chief secretary Shailaja Chandra and retired expert member BS Sajwan said it has ordered an inspection and a detailed report is awaited. “We have asked DPCC to examine the issue in detail and submit a report to us,” a member of the committee said.
Earlier this year also, debris had been dumped underneath the Nizamuddin Bridge and the committee had asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is the primary custodian of the floodplains to clear the floodplains of the debris. “DDA is responsible for preventing any kind of dumping on the floodplains. They had earlier told us that CCTV cameras have been installed and security personnel deployed to prevent such violations,” the member said.
The DDA spokesperson did not respond to request for comment.
In April 2019, the NGT committee had questioned the public works department (PWD), the Delhi Tourism department and Transport Development Corporate Ltd (DTTDC), the government agencies responsible for the construction and management of the Signature Bridge, about the dumping of construction debris into the river, affecting its flow. The agencies were also fined for the violations.
Manoj Misra, the convenor of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said that dumping of construction debris has been continuing unabated despite NGT orders and needs to be stopped immediately to save the river. “Unfortunately, government agencies have been dumping debris on the floodplains time and again, which is capable of altering the flow of the river. NGT must take a strong view in the matter and ensure dumping is prevented at any cost,” said Misra.