Vrindavan, 2018.03.26 (VT): A team from the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) carried out an inspection of the River front development project that is being executed by the Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department.
A five member team comprised of Ishwar Singh (Member Convener – NMCG); Shri Ajay Kumar (Superintending Engineer, Central Water Commission); Mr. Izam (Archeological Survey of India), Prof. Sarazuddin Ahemed (Zamia Milia University) and Dr. Arvind Kumar (Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board), visited the site in Vrindavan on Saturday.
The NMCG team conducted a site inspection to review the project, which was challenged in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Allahabad High Court by the river activists, and is still pending before both the courts.
On January 31st, the NGT passed the judgment that the entire project was subject to be reviewed by the National Mission for Clean Ganga, and the government departments which have undertaken the project will not claim any equity in that regard and remove the same, if required by the National Mission for Clean Ganga to do so at their own expense.
The NMCG was instructed to review the project based on the ‘Ganga notification’, which provides for protection of flood plains of Ganga and its tributaries, its demarcation and activities that can be carried out in such eco-sensitive areas. The salient portion of the notification related to the project states,
“No person shall construct any structure, whether permanent or temporary for residential or commercial or industrial or any other purposes in the River Ganga or its tributaries. Provided that in exceptional locations, temporary structures can be raised after prior permission of the National Mission for Clean Ganga acting through the State Ganga Committee and the District Ganga Committee: Provided further that in case any such construction has been completed, before the commencement of this order, in the River Bank of River Ganga or its tributaries, the National Mission for Clean Ganga shall review such constructions so as to examine as to whether such constructions are causing interruption in the continuous flow of water or pollution in River Ganga or its tributaries, and if that be so it shall cause for removing them.’
Irrigation department officials, Shri Sanjeev Tiwari and Shri Shailesh Saraswat; Shri Satish Kumar from the Public Works department; Counsel for the Irrigation department in NGT, and Smt. Deep Shikha Bharati were present during the inspection. The members of the Dharma Raksha Sangh and Yamuna Rakshak Dal met the team members and demanded that a Sewerage Treatment Plant of 5 MLD should be established upstream of the Kosi Nala before the sewage from Koshikalan enters Vrindavan.
Talking to VT, Dharma Raksha Sangh National Convener Acharya Badrish said, “The ill conceived project has destroyed the ghats of Vrindavan. The new cemented ghats should have been built across the river, so that the flow stays permanently on the original ghats. The project has forced the river to leave its original course on ancient ghats of Vrindavan.”
None of the applicants who challenged the project in the court or their representatives were seen during inspection. Talking to VT, Shri Akash Vashishth, the petitioner in the NGT said, “We came to know about the visit only from the newspaper on the following day. Our counsel was informed, through email, two days after the inspection, on Monday.” This can’t be considered a mistake, because Yamuna is very important to us and we have been at the forefront of the movement to save the ancient Ghats and protect the Yamuna riverbed. There must be a malafide intention behind this deliberate move. We shall challenge it in whatever way we can.”
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