Mystery road on Yamuna demolished after HT reported its return within a month
A road built illegally with debris to connect the Yamuna east bank with a river island appeared, disappeared and reappeared in a matter of months.
The Delhi Development Authority demolished the narrow strip of road a day after Hindustan Times reported about it on September 1. But it was rebuilt, prompting ecologists and environment activists to accuse authorities of lax monitoring.
“It is evident that the road has been rebuilt by dumping fresh debris. It is a brazen violation of the National Green Tribunal’s directions,” said Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, a group campaigning to save the Yamuna, one of the filthiest rivers in India.
The tribunal had banned dumping of debris in or near the river.
Ecologists warned the road built across a channel between the eastern riverfront and an island will constrict water flow and upset natural activities such as silt transportation.
Little water flows in the Yamuna as the ravages of modernity have reduced it to a frothing stream of sewage and toxic industrial waste. It is protected by laws that prevent activities that could further damage the river’s fragile eco-system and banks.
Uday Pratap Singh, the DDA vice chairman, promised to step up vigil when photographs of the rebuilt road were shown to him.
“I have asked the officers to take immediate action. The road was demolished earlier. It seems that illegal activities are going on at night,” he said on Thursday.
A police complaint was filed after the demolition last month.
But it couldn’t be ascertained why and who built the road hidden under a Metro rail bridge. Cattle grazers often take their animals to the islands lush with tall grass. The fear, though, is that people might be using the stretch to illegally collect sand from the Yamuna.
DDA officials suspected the sand mafia of building the road with debris such as plastic packets, torn clothes, concrete rubble, hay and even broomsticks.
“Before the road was dismantled, one of our guards walked up to the river island. He found a ditch, at least 10 feet by 20 feet. That strengthened our suspicion about the sand mafia,” a senior official said.
The road will choke the river’s natural flow, which can turn into an environmental disaster.
“The river would start depositing silt on its bed upstream and become shallow. It would then flood the banks…,” ecologist CR Babu said.
A research published in the Current Science journal in 2014 pointed out that about 60% water flow is necessary through the year to keep the Yamuna healthy.