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Issue 34
, 2012
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Yamuna’s river-bed shrinking

Source: Deccan Herald, Date: , 2012

New Delhi: Only 30 per cent of Yamuna’s original  river-bed, which was prominent in areas of north Delhi, east Delhi and Noida in 1962, is left today, say environmentalists.

They are holding state agencies responsible for upsetting the ecological balance. "The national capital has failed to set a good example of letting a free flowing river survive," said Manoj Mishra, a Delhi-based environmentalist.

Many unauthorised colonies were removed as they were apparently polluting the river but Yamuna Bank Metro depot and Delhi Transport Corporation depot are encroaching the river-bed, he added.

Moreover, a large part of the bank was given away for Commonwealth Games village which invaded the flood plain.

"These structures are built on sand which is 150 m deep. Experts have predicted a six Richter scale earthquake in 2033 which could drown these structures. I am not sure if the authorities are being sane in investing crores of rupees on non-sustainable structures," added Mishra.

Environmentalists say that the Delhi Development Authority's schemes to keep Yamuna clean have failed as the authority has negligible understanding of the harm done to the river in the form of encroachment and free-flowing waste. Kuldeep Singh, a town planner, believes that development is essential but not at the cost of the river-bed.

"The DDA only knows how to build parks with pretty butterflies. A monitoring body has to begin functioning to evade the forthcoming constructions," Singh said.

Environmentalists also said Delhi has drunk all the water from the city's only resource for pure water.

"The Wazirabad barrage has invaded the river-bed and in turn discharged all its waste in to the river. Since 1999 the river has witnessed a bad phase and now the river should be left alone," said K T Ravindran, head of urban design at the School of Planning and Architecture.

In December 2011, Toxics Links had organised a lecture on ‘Yamuna and the city’ where experts debated about the bleak future of the river.

"Three power plants which were operational on the Yamuna river-bed are being shut down and shifted to a new place. It is not impossible to relocate the DTC and DMRC depots as well. "We wrote to all state authorities warning them about the threat but no action has been taken so far," said Mishra.