Making an attempt to protect what is left of the floodplains of the Yamuna, activists of non-government organisation Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan have written to Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna asking him to ensure there are no further encroachments on the river bed.
The activists are concerned that for the third phase of the metro railway, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is envisaging a bridge across the Yamuna.
“We have learnt that the DMRC plans to construct yet another pseudo-bridge across the river and have written to the Lieutenant-Governor seeking his intervention in preventing that,” said YJA convener Manoj Misra.
“Pseudo-bridges alter and obstruct the flow of the river. Barring the Old Yamuna Bridge built by the British, all the bridges across the river in the city are pseudo-bridges. Either the DMRC should work out an alternate route or ensure that they build a real bridge that will not affect the flow of the river.”
He said the pseudo-bridges are cross embankments with the bridge portion being only the non-monsoonal flow channel and inhibits smooth flow of flood waters down the natural gradient.
Pointing out that the threat of floods increases manifold when the river and the floodplains are altered and disturbed, Mr. Misra said the recent rise in the water levels and the subsequent flooding in the low-lying areas of the city is a fallout of the floodplain encroachment.
“What is notable about these floods is that despite a medium level release not exceeding 2.40 lakh cusecs at Hathni Kund, almost the entire floodplain in the city has gone under deep water and the water level has touched almost 206 m (205.97 m to be exact) against the danger level of 204.83 m at the observation post at the Old Railway Bridge. Certainly this spread of water despite medium level release at the Hathni Kund Barrage in Haryana is on account of existing encroachments in the river bed/floodplain by the DMRC and the other agencies,” the YJA said in the letter.
Cautioning that the city may not be able to handle and contain an increased flow on water in the Yamuna, the YJA in its letter expressed concern that the city will find it hard to cope if water released is in excess of five lakh cusec. “In 1978 the water released was more than seven lakh cusecs and the water level reached close to 207 m at the Old Railway Bridge,” Mr. Misra said.
The YJA wants the Lieutenant-Governor to ensure that the DMRC does not “compromise the river floodplain again” and if the need to cross the river arises then a bridge across the entire stretch of the flood plain from Ring Road up to Noida link road be constructed.
“The DMRC should also not be permitted to construct more structures like depots or commercial complexes on the floodplain. Above all there should be a proper environment and social impact assessment study of the DMRC's plan conducted by a professional body with requisite adverse impact mitigation measures in place before it is permitted to build again,” said Mr. Misra.