DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 01 Feb 2021: Dissolving YMC is retrograde

In a shocking and disappointing move, the National Green Tribunal last week dissolved the Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC) in Delhi, UP and Haryana along with Justice Pritam Pal Committee and asked the state government to implement the various measures in earlier YMC and NGT reports and directions. This seems like a major set back for the future of Yamuna and other rivers. This seems to have been a direct fall out of the Supreme Court of India Suo Moto taking up the Yamuna pollution issue. This is not going to help solve the seemingly intraceable issue of tackling pollution of our rivers. If the states were interested and capable of implementing the necessary measures, we won’t have required YMC in the first place. YMC was taking a number of useful steps and as we wrote in the DRP lead story dated January 18, 2021, what is required is strengthening the hands of the YMC, but as if our worst fears were to come true, YMC has now been dissolved, even before it could make its mark in achieving cleaner rivers.

It should be noted that our judiciary does not have very remarkable track record in achieving cleaner rivers. In fact the same Supreme Court took up Yamuna case Suo moto in 1994 and not having been able to achieve any better state of Yamuna, after dealing with it for 23 long years, handed over the case to NGT in 2017. Supreme Court had been dealing with Ganga case even longer, and again not achieving better state of the river, handed over the case to NGT in 2017. It seemed like NGT had done something right in setting up YMC, but that also has been dissolved. Its clear that unless the citizens and society does not rise up, there is no hope for our rivers.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 4 Jan 2021: Bangladesh declares Halda River as Fisheries Heritage

Bangladesh has declared the whole 81 km long Halda River, a tributary of Karnaphuli River in Chittagong in South East Bangladesh. The Halda river is also famous for breeding pure Indian carp. This is the only pure Indian carp breeding field of Bangladesh, perhaps in South Asia. This is a remarkable river conservation decision that has a lot of lessons for much bigger India where no river has been protected as fisheries heritage. This is great way to begin the first weekly DRP Bulletin of 2021 and we hope the Indian government, civil society and judiciary will take due note of this.

Controversy is never far away from any such river conservation efforts as is evident from the news about proposal for a Halda River based water supply project for industrial estate that has been opposed by the Fisheries ministry, water resources ministry, the River Conservation Commission, the Department of Environment and independent researchers.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 28 Dec. 2020: Five Positives of outgoing Corona year

The outgoing year 2020 is likely to be remembered as Corona year as Covid 19 pandemic has been the most influential aspect of the year. However, there have been many positives of the outgoing year. We identify five biggest positives as we see them.

Firstly, the complete lockdown that we experienced during March-April 2020, to slow down the spread of the Covid 19 infection showed, among many other things that it is indeed possible to clean up our rivers and also indicated the way forward: tackle industrial pollution. Unfortunately, those clear lessons have not been learnt by the government, its been busy in ease of doing business, not even understanding that in changing climate, clean rivers are going to be a major resource that will help people adapt.

The second notable positive was the major across the country protests, particularly from the younger generation against the government’s attempt to bulldoze the completely anti- environment amendment to the EIA notification. The protests along with the judicial orders have so far stopped the amendment from getting implementation. The government will do well to abandon any attempt to push them.

Similar to the protests against amendments to EIA notification were the protests against trying to bulldoze the massive Etalin Hydropower project in Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, at the cost of lakhs of trees and biodiversity rich forest and river and against the wishes of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and North East India. Here again it was good to see that the campaign has so far been successful.

India Rivers Week 2020 organised Zonal and National dialogues on river sand mining in India, in which large number of groups and stakeholders from across the country participated and has created a new wave of awareness and energy on this very important but so far largely ignored issue. We are hopeful that this energy will lead to change in governance of river sand mining in India.

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Dams · Yamuna River

Yamuna restoration & livelihoods of floodplain farmers can co-exist

Migrant workers and farmers are among the worst affected sections of population in the ongoing pandemic and restrictions including lockdown. With staggering increase in infections, spread and deaths on daily basis the crisis is far from over yet.

Amid all this, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has resumed eviction drive against farmers and migrant workers eking out livelihood through cultivation of vegetables and plants in nurseries on Yamuna floodplain in Delhi.

On August 18, 2020, DDA team accompanied by Delhi Police personnel landed at Yamuna floodplain near Common Wealth Games (CWG) Village and crushed large part of crops, plants in nurseries using JCB machine.

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Dams · Yamuna River

DDA visits Yamuna with SANDRP

Following a visit to Yamuna on July 25, SANDRP had written to the Delhi Yamuna Monitoring Committee (DYMC) and concerned agencies about the dumping of construction debris and encroachments on Yamuna riverbed, floodplain at Signature Bridge, Nizamuddin Bridge (Mayur Vihar, Kale Khan side). DYMC has promptly asked Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC, we accompanied them for the inspection visit to the flood plain on July 27, 2020) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

On Aug 4, as per the request of DDA, SANDRP accompanied them to the Yamuna floodplain and riverbed along with their official photographer, videographer and measurement team.

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Dams · Yamuna River

Yamuna river, floodplain Abused in Delhi

Feature image Signature bridge equipment, facilities still occupying large chunk of Yamuna riverbed as seen on July 25, 2020. In the backdrop DMRC phase IV bridge work has started raising, leveling large chunk of riverbed further. (Bhim Singh Rawat/SANDRP)  

On February 16, 2020[i], SANDRP had raised the issue of large scale construction debris left and dumped in the riverbed of Yamuna along the bridges on NH 24 in Mayur Vihar. The area is opposite Sarai Kale Khan and close to Common Games Village.

Following this, the Delhi Yamuna Monitoring Committee (DYMC) constituted by National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to take action against the violation and submit Action Taken Report (ATR). In the following days a series of tweets were made by respective agencies with an assurance to look into the issue. After pursuing the matter persistently for three weeks, finally the DYMC informed that the debris have been removed from the site.

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