Sunday, August 17, 2008

Floods in Yamuna in Delhi: Commonwealth Games nightmare coming true?

Repeated warnings were ignored by State Govt.
Prestige of Nation at Stake?
NEW DELHI: For the first time in the last five years, water level of the Yamuna river flowing through the national capital has crossed danger mark to touch 205.55 meters, with authorities stepping up precautionary efforts. At least sixty people were trapped by flood waters after their jhuggies were inundated at the catchment area of the river in Umanpur area in east Delhi. "They ignored our earlier warnings to shift from the site when the water level had touched the danger mark. Now we have evacuated them to safer places," Development Minister Rajkumar Chauhan told. Jhuggi dwellers spent the day shifting their household goods to safer places with the help of the administration. "This is for the first time in the last five-six years that water level in Yamuna has reached to 205.55 metres. However, there is no imminent threat to life and property," he said. The river had crossed the danger mark of 204.83 metres in September 6, 1978, when it rose to 207.49 metres and caused heavy floods in the city. The danger levels were also crossed during 1995 and 1998 when the water level of the river rose to 206.96 metres and 206.18 metres respectively. According to Chauhan, the water level today reached 205.55 against Saturday's 205.43 metres, which is about 1.50 metres above the danger mark. "The water level in the Yamuna has risen consistently as Haryana is releasing 2,5000 cusecs of rainwater everyday. And if this continues, the water level is expected to further rise in the next few days," he said. As a precaution, the authorities are releasing more than 50,000 cusecs of water from Wazirabad barrage to Okhla barrage as well ITO barrage. Also, control rooms have been set up at strategic places to keep a round-the-clock vigil on the water flow.
YFJ view:
These are decadal foolds, a regular phenomenon in Yamuna flood plains, however this time because of illegal encroachments on yamuna flood plains by Govt. in the name of Commonwealth Games , these floods are threating to cause massive harms and devastaion.
This is high time Govt. should take immediate steps to save the city from this danger, we appeal both central and state govt to rethink on their plans for constructing Games village for CWG 2010 on yamuna flood plains.
(Kapil Mishra, YFJ)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Youth for Justice" completes One Year of Yamuna campaign

Hundreds came out to celebrate and take pledge to revive Yamuna River

People's movement to save and revive river Yamuna in the capital city of India completes one year as hundreds came out to join celebration organized today by "Youth for Justice", Arya Vir Dal ,Citizen’ front for water democracy, Natural Heritage First, Bhagat Singh Brigade and many other civil society organisations at Central Park, C.P. in Delhi.
It has been a year since Yamuna campaign was launched in Delhi to protest against constructions on the river bed. Various NGOs and resident groups joined this campaign. A large number of public events were done to send message to authorities that the destruction of riverbed is not acceptable to the people of Delhi.
We are analyzing below the roles of various authorities and different organs of the state:
We are disappointed that the construction of Games Village is going on the riverbed.
With this gathering we are registering our strong protest with the various organs of the state for not delivering good administration and justice.
First and foremost, the judiciary for not giving a judgment on case filed against these constructions. This way the constructions are bound to become a matter of fait accompli. This way people are losing faith in this institution, which was our last hope in the chaos, the nation is going through.
We do thank the Lt. Governor of Delhi, who is also heading the Yamuna River Development Authority, for declaring moratorium on any further constructions on river Yamuna. However, we are taken aback with the rider that it is subject to further studies. There are already existing studies by various technical experts on the subject which disallow any constructions here. Such as by NEERI, MoEF Expert Committee, Yamuna Standing Committee, High Court appointed Monitoring Committee, and Delhi University. It is really strange that in spite of so many studies, The LG have gone for more studies. What is wrong with the existing studies! Have they been proved wrong by anyone? If not, then why go for another one. Is this a ploy to justify the constructions through new studies!
The Central Ground Water Board has a role to protect any vital water recharge area. It is an undisputed fact that the sandy composition of the floodplains makes them the best water recharge areas. The floodplains, thus not only having a huge capacity to store water but also plenty of water is available for recharge during the monsoon floods. It is an unresolved query of the public as to why this department is not trying to protect these areas from any destructive activities like construction. If this department is not doing such a vital function, then it better be wound up and its officials be punished for promoting destruction of this city.
The Zonal Plans are showing a massive expansion of the city which will lead to an increased sewage generation. We have failed to understand that when the city has not been able to treat and handle the existing sewage generated, then why we are creating scope for more generation. This expansion in all the Zonal plans should not be allowed till the time we have taken care of the present sewage generation. A yatra along the river Yamuna downstream of Delhi was organized by Youth for Justice and other supporting NGOs on June 5. We found that the hundreds of villages in Haryana and U.P, downstream of Delhi are severely affected by the sewage released from Delhi. Their aquifers are polluted and the crop quality is suffering, thus polluting the whole food cycle. The latent anger seen in the denizens of these villages, targeted at the real culprit Delhi, was so palpable that we could feel it and its only a matter of time when our own sewage may hit us back. We see a potential inter state war on the issue of pollution of river waters. It is learnt that the environment minister of Haryana has already once raised this issue.
We the citizens of Delhi can not afford to grow irresponsibly and put in peril our own survival. We need to immediately halt any expansion plans till the time we are able to take care of our existing sewage in a sustainable manner to the satisfaction of our neighboring states, who have to bear the brunt of our waste.
With this, we appeal to all the political parties to explain their stand on the above facts and declare their future strategy by including in their election manifesto.
We pledge that we will continue with our efforts to protect the river Yamuna with greater vigour and if need we will also engage in direct action to save the river.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


This Sunday Aug. 10, 2008