The Delhi government has come up with a new “comprehensive turnaround plan for the Yamuna” to ensure that untreated water does not enter the river. The plan will be executed over the next two-and-a-half years and will cost Rs 6,000 crore, said officials.
The plan will include cleaning the river, developing the river bank as a biodiversity zone, treating drain water and using spaces on the banks of drains as public spaces, said government sources.
The new plan comes at a time when there is growing pressure on the government from the National Green Tribunal to clean the river. “There have been three Yamuna action plans costing crores. Other plans relating to sewage treatment were proposed. All these plans were in isolation and Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 crore was allocated and spent on various projects,” said a senior government official.
The new plan has been developed by a team of Delhi Jal Board officials, headed by Water Minister Kapil Mishra, in the last six months. “This plan combines all earlier plans — point sources, non-point sources, biodiversity, ecology, river cleaning. No aspect has been left untouched and this is a detailed plan. We have mapped out each drain and how to clean them up,” said a government official.
The official added, “The plan includes removing silt which gets accumulated near the river. Other projects will look at river flow and river-front development… An ecological riverfront will also be developed across 9,000 hectares. This is being done for the first time in the world on such a large scale.”
Instead of just cleaning the river, the plan aims to build the area around the river and drains.
“The river and all drains are being seen as one system. We are not looking at the Yamuna in isolation. We are not only cleaning the river and drains but are also developing an ecology an economy around it,” said the official.
“On both sides of the large drains, for 250m, water-oriented development will take place. We will be creating a clean water body and public space. This will lead to an automatic rise in the value of land around these drains. The idea is to notify 250m around it as commercial space. We are looking at drains in two ways — as sewage or interceptors and as a wetland. Cycle tracks, greenways and paths will be developed for public utilisation along the drains,” added the official.