Beautification and rejuvenation work of the Yamuna riverfront in the temple town of Vrindavan has come under the lens of the National Green Tribunal, with an environment activist seeking a stay on the ongoing construction activity in the area. The Uttar Pradesh government, under the Vrindavan rejuvenation project, has proposed “expansion, renovation and beautification” work of three kilometre riverfront from Kesi ghat to downstream of river Yamuna.
The project which proposes expansion of Kesi ghat by 750 metres into the river floodplain, also involves a mechanism to clean tributaries entering the river and construct interceptor drains to counter overflow of sewer into the river.
Nature enthusiast Akash Vashishtha, who has moved the green panel in this regard, in his plea, claimed that reclamation of the eco-sensitive Yamuna floodplain is being carried out in gross violation of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the provisions of the EIA Notification of 2006.
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“The construction work is being carried out without securing a consent to operate under Section 25 of the Water Act and prior Environmental Clearance as is mandatory under the Notification.
“In fact, no detailed project report has been made available, clearly showing that the project proponents are going ahead with the construction in complete disregard of the law of the land and the environment,” the plea filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary said.
The plea has made the Union Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, UP government, state irrigation department, UP Jal Nigam, Archaeological Survey of India, Mathura Vrindavan Development Authority and Nagar Palika Parishad as parties in the case.
Vashishtha has contended that the project proponent was encroaching right into the river floodplain in order to create space for a new ghat and an interceptor pipeline. This expansion was taking place over and above the already encroached land consisting of illegal colonies and other construction projects.
“Direct the concerned respondents to restore the river bed and floodplain of Yamuna and its ghats after removing the pipeline and any other construction done, and demolition and removal of 21 colonies identified by Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority as illegal,” the plea said.