A day after a team of officials left Delhi for Gujarat to study the Sabarmati River Front Project and see if it may hold lessons for implementing the Delhi Development Authority’s Yamuna River Front Development Scheme, environmentalists expressed apprehensions over the plan. Questioning whether the Sabarmati had yet been rejuvenated and pointing out that the water flowing in the river channel was a 10.5-km artificial canal with water diverted from Narmada river canal, environmentalists said this was no model to follow.

“Do we want to rejuvenate our river, or create an artificial canal in the city? In Ahmedabad, only a canal was created by the Gujarat Government, there has been no rejuvenation of Sabarmati,” said Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan.

A team comprising the Delhi Jal Board CEO, Delhi Parks & Gardens Society Additional Commissioner (Landscape), and the Irrigation & Flood Control Chief Engineer left for Gujarat on Thursday to study the Sabarmati Riverfront Project.

Mr. Mishra, who has filed two applications in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for checking encroachment and disposal of debris and sewage into the Yamuna, urged that the government instead focus on implementing recommendations of the Ministry of Environment and Forests panel submitted in April this year.

The committee headed by C.R. Babu, professor emeritus, Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE), Delhi University, had recommended that the entire 52-km stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh be declared a conservation zone. It had recommended restricting developmental activities in the river zone ‘O’.

“The focus should be to bring the flow of the river back, secure the floodplains with greenery, not concrete. At present, the sewers are linked to the river. Sewage and waste water flowing directly into the river must be stopped. Treat the waste water and use it for agricultural and non-potable water uses instead,” said Mr. Mishra.

In a note on the Sabarmati River Front Project in 2013, Mr. Mishra had pointed out that the Sabarmati had deteriorated after an irrigation and water supply dam was built on it at Dharoi, 165 km upstream of Ahmedabad. Later, “water from the Narmada river canal was diverted into the Sabarmati just upstream of the Sardar Patel Ring Road encircling the city of Ahmedabad — this was an act of grave impertinence since neither Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation nor Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited had any rights over the Narmada waters, meant for the Kachchh region of Gujarat,” he noted.

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