Tuesday, November 4, 2008


New Delhi, November 03
Indian Express
“It is fear and anxiety that makes me pen these lines,” begins Justice Rekha Sharma in a crisp four-page verdict that says the river is “gasping for breath”.
Supplementing a formal 45-page judgment from Justice A K Sikri, is the four page judgment from his “sister Justice Rekha Sharma”, who says the entire project of building on the Yamuna riverbed is a “sad story of men fiddling with major issues and resultantly playing havoc”. “This judgment,” she observes, “relates to a river which once flowed majestically but is now gasping for breath. If this continues, time is not far off when this gift of Gods will die an unnatural death buried under layers of silt.”
She pits the oft-mooted contention of “development” with the environmentalists’ cry of “save the river”, and concludes that Yamuna is more important of the two. “The significance and importance of the Commonwealth Games is not lost on anyone (but) the impact of building on the Yamuna, its environment, ecology and the long-term damage is, as the petitioners (environmentalists) say, pregnant with disaster,” the judge notes. “If no urgent measures are taken, the Yamuna may exist only in books.” Justice Sharma also notes: “No doubt is left that the site in question is on the river bed.”
In his separate judgment, Justice Sikri considers the issue a “disputed question” that needs to be looked into by an expert committee.
But Justice Sharma goes a step further to add that even if the construction is not on the riverbed, “urbanisation and colossal construction underway may yet adversely affect the environment, the river and the ecology”. She also lashes out at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute for unexpectedly changing its stand to favour urbanization. Justice Sharma concludes with a parting shot that neither the government, DDA or the NEERI have been “fair” to the river.