A committee overseeing the cleaning of Yamuna has stressed the need to raise awareness about the importance of the river and its floodplain so that a sense of “ownership” is created among the people and it is preserved.
The monitoring committee, that was set up by the National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice A K Goel in July, has suggested forming a nodal agency for the task.
“Presently, there is no ownership of the river Yamuna. That is because it means nothing to the citizens as it is providing no opportunity for cultural activities, leisure or recreation,” it said.
There needs to be awareness about why the flood plains are “sacrosanct they need conservation”, it has observed. The committee comprises retired expert member B S Sajwan and former Delhi chief secretary Shailaja Chandra and it has been directed to submit an action plan and detailed report on cleaning of the river by December 31. The committee has submitted the details to the Delhi government. In the action plan, the committee has also noted that involvement of citizens requires that there is knowledge of why the river is important and why it is worth preserving and restoring.
“There is a need to plan for awareness building and permissible activities beyond the flood plains but for that there needs to be a nodal department to build awareness by spearheading permissible events and activities,” the committee has said. It has noted that except at the time of idol immersion during Ganesh and Durga Puja festivals, the river has no human activity which could enhance its habitat. It said that Yamuna is a unique birding destination and there is a need for the Delhi Development Authority to preserve the birding hot spots with inputs from an established birder group.
“There is a need for assigning nodal responsibility for creating public awareness to a consortium of agencies with an interest which can include international an national level NGOs engaged in building awareness about the environment,” it said.
The monitoring committee has also urged the Delhi chief secretary to encourage programmes that prevent dung from dairies going into the river. Installing a biogas plant for making gas out of dung instead of letting it flow into drains at Ghazipur would make a visible impact, it argued. “Technology for this is available too and can become an interesting school field trip too,” it added.