New Delhi / Vrindavan, 2016.11.01 (VT): The Yamuna River Front Development Project of Vrindavan was challenged in the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday by Environment Activist Shri Akash Vashishtha.
The NGT issued notices to the Union ministries of Environment & Forests and Water Resources along with several UP government agencies and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on petition, alleging illegal constructions near the heritage ghats and in the Yamuna floodplain zone in Vrindavan. The court has posted the matter for an early hearing asking all agencies to file replies by November 17.
The project, which proposes expansion of the Vrindavan Ghats by 750 meters into the river floodplain, also involves a mechanism to clean tributaries entering the river and construct interceptor drain to counter the overflow of the sewer into the river. Vashishtha in his petition claimed that reclamation of the eco sensitive floodplain is being carried out in gross violation of the water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the provision of the EIA Notification of 2006. He challenged the construction of an interceptor drain, which will run parallel to the expanded riverfront and transport sewage from the Kosi canal and 18 different drains running through Vrindavan before eventually dumping the same without any treatment into the river.
The petitioner stated in his plea that the government agencies, instead of complying with the earlier order of the tribunal, which sought demolition of illegal structures around the floodplain, went ahead and brazenly started construction in violation of norms. He is associated with the alliance for Culture and Environment, a forum working for the conservation of heritage in Braj Area.
The Uttar Pradesh government, under the Vrindavan rejuvenation project, has proposed “expansion, renovation and beautification” work of three kilometer riverfront front from Keshi Ghat and 32 other ghats in the holy city at the cost of more than Rs. 100 crore.
It should be noted that the Allahabad High Court has already raised question on the laying of the sewer line and ordered not to lay sewer line on the river. It also ordered not to damage the ghats. The High Court heard the case on 6th October and 20th October respectively on the petition of Mahant Madhumangal Sharan Das Shukla.
Green activists fear that letting the project continue without environmental impact and social impact assessment will result in irreversible damage to the ecology and heritage of Vrindavan
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