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Restoration of Yamuna floodplains may begin soon, NGT seeks action plan

An expert committee appointed by the green body had claimed that the ecology of over 420 acres of floodplains was adversely affected by the Word Culture Festival

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2017 23:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Yamuna plains,Yamuna floodplains,art of living
New Delhi , India - March 19, 2016: A look into the aftermath of the World Culture Festival organised by Art of Living on the banks of river Yamuna in New Delhi , India, on Saturday, March 19, 2016. (Photo by Saumya Khandelwal/ Hindustan Times)(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

The restoration of Yamuna floodplains could start soon with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday directing the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and irrigation department of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh to submit an action plan within a week.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar formed a three-member committee comprising a senior official of the DDA and chief engineers of the irrigation department of Delhi and UP to prepare the plan.

“The committee shall submit an action plan with reference to floodplains of Yamuna where Art of Living’s event was held last year,” the bench said.

The tribunal also directed the committee to consult and refer to the findings and suggestions of the expert panel, appointed by NGT earlier, before submitting the restoration action plan.

A three-day Word Culture Festival was organised on the river’s floodplains by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living in March 2016.

An expert committee appointed by the green body had claimed that the ecology of over 420 acres of floodplains was adversely affected by the event. The panel suggested that it would require over Rs 42 crore to execute the plan.

Art of Living, however, had challenged the findings on multiple grounds and even appointed its own panel of experts to prepare a parallel report to substantiate their claims.

“Let the restoration work begin. The cost can be debited to the account of whoever is responsible for the damage. We can’t ask the DDA to sit on the report submitted by the expert committee,” the bench observed.

The matter would be heard again on a day-to-day basis from July 28 onwards. The action plan would have to be submitted by July 28.

The expert committee earlier appointed by the tribunal suggested they would need the help of aquatic plants and animals that once used to inhabit the river’s floodplains to fix the ecological damage.

The report had stated that huge de-siltation and dredging would be required to ‘physically’ rehabilitate the network of wetlands and channels that were damaged and destroyed.

The biological rehabilitation — the process to make the wetlands and channels ecologically functional once again — would have to be started simultaneously, experts had suggested.

This process would take around 10 years at least.

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 23:03 IST