Activists flag concerns over debris dumping on Yamuna floodplains
- Responding to HT on Monday, CPWD denied all allegations that the waste from the Central Vista construction site was being dumped on the floodplains.
Environmental activists and some slum dwellers have raised concerns over mounds of construction debris and soil excavated during the construction of the new Parliament Building at Sansad Marg — as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project — being dumped on the Yamuna floodplains in east Delhi.
Environment activists alleged that the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which is undertaking the construction of the new Parliament building via private developers, has been allowing the dumping of construction waste — including debris and soil from the excavation of the site on the floodplains — in violation of an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 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.
CPWD, however, strongly denied the allegations saying that the portion of land in question is “away from the floodplain”, and that on the request of the Public Works Department, it was just levelling the earth below the Barapullah road project site.
On Monday, Hindustan Times visited the portion of the Yamuna floodplains adjacent to the Noida Link Road — ranging up to the Delhi-Noida-Direct Flyway till the Meerut Expressway and the Vikas Bridge — and found that the area was filled with mounds of soil and concrete waste, which had reached the height of the main road. Even though activists and the slum dwellers in the area said that this waste was being dumped late at night from the site of the new Parliament building, HT could not verify this claim.
Large pieces of cement blocks, building material and rocks were also piled up on the stretch.
Dev Pal, a field researcher at a citizens’ group called Housing and Land Rights Network, who had first noticed the violation, said that all the waste that was seen on the floodplains happened after February 4.
“There are around two dozen huts situated on this portion of the floodplains and this dumping is happening all around those dwellings. From February 4, every night around 50-70 trucks line on the main road and dump the waste here. The mounds have become so high now that it has reached the height of the main road. This is an eco-sensitive zone and if we receive a good rainfall tomorrow, then all of these houses around these mounds will get buried in the soil,” Pal said.
Pal alleged that the dumping on this portion was from the site of the new Parliament building.
“We have been tracking and researching the movement of trucks and we have found that such a high volume of waste is coming only from the Parliament building site. We had reached out to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), but we got a standard response from them that the matter is being looked into,” he said.
Responding to HT on Monday, CPWD denied all allegations that the waste from the Central Vista construction site was being dumped on the floodplains. “These allegations are not correct. We have filled excavated earth on PWD’s (Public Works Department) Barapullah project, within the clover leaves and slip road area. This part is away from the floodplains,” CPWD said.
Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the agency that owns the floodplain, in its response said that the complaint was brought to their notice on Monday morning and officials are “looking into the matter”.
Environmentalists, however, insisted that the area under question was part of the floodplains and in 2010 and 2013, when the levels of Yamuna had increased and was nearing the ‘danger’ mark, this section had to be evacuated as the water from the river had reached the edge of the Noida Link Road.
Manoj Misra, the convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, said that the area where waste is being dumped was originally a low-lying area and is a natural wetland, which helps in the recharge of groundwater, and is a habitat for many animals and birds apart from being home to several local farmers.
“This dumping needs to be stopped. This area should be cleared and reclaimed as ordered in 2013 by the NGT,” Misra said.
He also said that if immediate action is not initiated, it will lead to an eventual alteration of the morphology of the floodplains.
Bhim Singh Rawat, associate coordinator at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, People (SANDRP), said that over the last few years such rampant construction around the Yamuna has led to several such violations.
“The problem is that they do not realise that they are creating trouble for themselves. Every river follows a decadal flooding cycle, which means that every few decades, the river water rises to dangerous levels and if there are any encroachments in its flow, they get washed away. Over the years such violations also result in alterations in the flow pattern of the river,” Rawat said.