The Union Environment Ministry's proposal to declare the initial stretches of the Bhagirathi River as eco-sensitive zone has been welcomed by river conservationists, who now want the Ministry to take similar steps for the dying Yamuna.

Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (YJA), a non government organisation that campaigns for the protection of the river, has shot-off a letter to Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, asking for a similar protection act for the Yamuna.

“We have requested the Minister to draft a similar plan of conservation for the Yamuna too. In particular, the initial 172-km of the river from its origin at Yamunotri till its harnessing at Hathni Kund in Haryana, needs a similar declaration,” said YJA convener Manoj Misra.

The Ministry recently issued a draft notification on the proposed declaration of initial stretches of river Bhagirathi as eco-sensitive zone under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

“As per the proposal, about 135-km of the river and 100-metre on either side will be identified as an eco-sensitive zone. There will be no development activity allowed without the permission of an empowered committee that will include both government and civil society representatives,” said Mr. Misra.

He went on to add: “Like the Bhagirathi, the Yamuna too is crucial for the Ganga, it has the same religious and social relevance and there is a pressing need to save the Yamuna as well. There are reports of new dams being planned on the Yamuna, if that were to happen the water situation in the river will go from bad to worse. And to prevent such situations, we need to have legally enforceable acts like the Environment Protection Act.”

Declaring the initial stretch of the Yamuna as eco sensitive zone will also help keep polluting industries from coming up along the belt and save the river from the destruction caused by chemicals and other industrial refuse, he added.

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