Can’t revive all waterbodies: Delhi govt

The Delhi government wishes to revive 629 waterbodies in the city before the Commonwealth Games. But on Monday...

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published: March 3, 2009 12:45:43 am

Many of the 629 waterbodies encroached upon,some concretised,says Chief Secretary Mehta

The Delhi government wishes to revive 629 waterbodies in the city before the Commonwealth Games. But on Monday,the government said to replenish the waterbodies may not be possible due to “encroachments” and “concrete cover up”.

“Not all 629 waterbodies can be revived as many have been encroached upon and some have concrete covering them,” Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said. “Some are filled with sewage water.”

However,Mehta said all land owning agencies have been asked to expedite the revival process in these waterbodies. “All the land owning agencies have been asked to conduct physical inspection of these sites after which we will conduct third party checks,” he said. “But it will be difficult to comment (on the status of these sites) till we get a report from these agencies.”

The meeting of the land owning agencies,to be chaired by Mehta,who also heads the High Court-appointed monitoring committee on waterbodies,will be held later this month.

Last month,the High Court had issued a notice to the government,asking it to come clear on the status of the Mayapuri lake and the Jahangirpuri marshland.

In that context,Mehta said,“The revenue records can tell more appropriately if the said structure is a waterbody. But if the same had been accepted as a waterbody in the apex court as per the INTACH list of the 629 waterbodies,it will be maintained.”

The status of the Mayapuri lake,dying a slow death due to administrative apathy,is clouded in confusion due to changes in its land use

But the lake is one of six waterbodies identified for development by the Ministry of Tourism in 2002. The other waterbodies included the Hauz Khas lake,Tihar lake,Ladpur and Karala in Najafgarh,and Prasad Nagar lake in Rajendra Nagar.

In an undertaking before the Delhi High Court in 2002,the Delhi government’s tourism department and the Union Ministry of Tourism had accepted the above six sites as waterbodies,which were to be developed for tourism. The deadline to revive them was March 31,2003.

Public Works Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan also said the Mayapuri lake is a waterbody. “I don’t know the status on paper. But it is very much a waterbody,as it still holds a lot of water,” Chauhan said.

Environmentalist V K Jain of non-governmental organisation Tapas said: “The waterbodies in Delhi have been crying for help. Even after the Tourism Ministry accepted in court it would develop the six waterbodies,their condition remains as bad as ever.”

The administrative process of augmenting Delhi’s groundwater sources started after a High Court order in 2000 following a public interest litigation filed by Jain.

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