Declaring Yamuna River in Delhi a Protected Area

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Ms. Veena Upadhyaya, IAS,
Additional Secretary,
Ministry of Environment & Forests,
Government of India,
Paryavaran Bhawan
CGO Complex, Lodi Road,
New Delhi 110003



Dear Ms. Upadhyaya,



Declare and Administer Yamuna as a Protected Area and Bird Park and Frame and Implement River Zone Regulations on lines of Coastal Zone Regulations.



Yamuna is beset with many issues and ailments. These can be summarised as:

1. The Quality of Water is possibly the worst that is found in any river. The Supreme Courts has called it a sewage drain. This is due to:

discharge of untreated sewage into the river despite an amount of over Rs. 700 Crores having been spent to create Sewage Treatment Plants and the associated expenditure.

lack of adequate quantity of water in the river despite an agreement on the minimum release of water.

the waste generated by people living in the river bed quite a few have been moved out but still a large number remain.

the waste from cattle grazing.

waste generated from chemicals, pesticides, agricultural activities

This subject is still under review by the Honble Supreme Court and the concerned authorities and bodies are continuing to submit various schemes.

Nevertheless, the implementation of the Concept outlined in the following paragraphs would mitigate these issue to a large extent without much expenditure required.

2. The Encroachments on the banks and the flood plains of Yamuna:

By the state. For Example, almost the whole of west bank occupied for Samadhis, Delhi Government Secretariat, Power Plants, Metro Depots & Service Stations etc.

By Religious Zealots. For Example, Akhshardham, Gurudwara, Monastery and so on.
By the homeless, poor people (but are they really so ?)


The Honble High Court of Delhi has passed an order for the concerned authorities to remove these encroachments.

Some action has already been taken in this respect and a lot more is yet to be taken and has been delayed on one excuse or the other.

In addition, on the other hand, fresh encroachments are being permitted by the authorities either in ignorance (which is unpardonable) and/or in contempt of the Honble High Court of Delhi and/or with unspecified designs and/or in violation of the MOEF notifications requiring Environment Impact Assessments.

This statement is being made with reference to the TIMES GLOBAL VILLAGE being erected on the Western Bank of Yamuna just to the north of DND Flyway.

The question now is how do we stop this and/or make it more difficult for anyone to encroach or permit encroachments in future. A major part of the problems which plague Yamuna would get solved If encroachments are eliminated.

WE HAVE A SIMPLE SUGGESTION/CONCEPT to make. And, this action is indeed part of the mandate of the MOEF.





The Suggested Concept is:


Declare and Administer Yamuna as a Protected Area and Bird Park and Frame and Implement River Zone Regulations on lines of Coastal Zone Regulations.




The Suggestion and Concept:

Declare the 22 Kms of Yamuna passing through Delhi from Wazirabad to Okhla as a Protected Area and a Bird Sanctuary. This would be a northward extension of the already notified Okhla Bird Park & Wild Life Sanctuary. A Graphic is placed at Annexure 1.

Fence the total area of the flood plain on both east and west side where there are no encroachments as of now so that no further areas are encroached upon by either the state or the public. This would signal and work as a deterrent to encroachment

Encroachments be removed follow up on the existing orders of the Honble High Court of Delhi in this regard. The area so released should be fenced at that time.

Hand over the area to, say, an organisation like CMEDE of University of Delhi with the mandate to restore the Eco System of the River as it used to be years, decades and centuries ago. (The Yamuna Bio-Diversity Park is a good example in this respect).

The area be developed on the lines of Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur with heronry, bush-land, swamp and marshy areas, walk-ways, watch-towers, trekking trails, boating.

A few kilometers, say 5, upstream of Wazirabad and downstream of Okhla be declared as buffer zones

Ensure complete ban on Fishing, Agriculture and other activities in the area fenced.

Ban Cattle Grazing.

The declared Protected Area (PA) be permitted to be used for entertainment walkways, bird-watching towers and trails, trekking trails, boating, etc as permitted in the Protected Area and National Parks


Administration:


Administer the Area though an Independent Body, say a Trust or a Corporation with Governing Body comprising of persons committed to Protection and Conservation of Environment

This Body be created under the Aegis of Honble High Court of Delhi.

This Body be run on a No Profit No Loss Basis. Initial funding can be raised through the Government of India or an International Agency.

A Professional CEO to run this Body

Dedicated Security to ensure Zero Encroachment.



Accountability, Monitoring and Control:


CEO to be vested with adequate powers and held accountable for developing a Management Plan, Timely Implementation, Cost Controls, No Encroachments.

Progress, Status Reports to be reviewed and monitored by the Governing Body.

Frequent publication of progress reports and status with satellite images for public scrutiny.

Penal Punishments for violations.
River Zone Regulations:

Frame River Zone Regulations and Laws on the Lines of Coastal Zone Regulations now and not later, which will have to be done one day in any case. Earlier the better.

Implement the same not only for Yamuna but also Country-wide since the Pollution and Encroachment of River Banks and Flood Plains is not restricted to Yamuna in Delhi alone.

Till the time the Regulations are framed, approved and implemented, find a mechanism to ensure the status quo at least.

The Justification for the Concept is:

To Eliminate Encroachments, to Restore River Yamuna to its lost pristine Glory, to help improve water quality by restoring the Eco-system of the River, to let the aquifers be charged for improved quality of the ground water and to take full advantage of the Bird Life available at Yamuna

Declaring Yamuna as a Protected Area would call for a Management Plan to be formulated and implemented. This in turn would focus on what needs to be done and would ensure that nothing beyond what is approved takes place


Bird Life at OBP-WLS and Yamuna:

Globally about 13000 Species
Pan India 1300 Species
NCR About 450 Species
The Capital only the second city, after Nairobi, across the World to record more than 400 species.



OBP-WLS Records:

About 400 Species or
About 3 \%+ of Species Globally
About 30 \% Of those of India and
About 80 \% Of Species of NCR
More than or equal to the number of species at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Usefulness of Birds:

Birds could exist without Man but Man would perish without Birds

But for Trees the Insects would perish, but for insects the Birds would perish, but for Birds the Trees would perish and but for the Trees the World would perish

THERE IS INDEED LITTLE EXTRAVAGANCE IN EITHER OF THESE SPECULATIONS. THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO SAVE YAMUNA, SAVE DELHI AND ALL RIVERS OF INDIA.

We would be immensely grateful if the Concept as presented could be given serious consideration and implemented.

With best regards,