Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yamuna: views of E. Shridharan

As published in TOI on 20th May 2009
Restrict Yamuna with walls and develop low-lying areas
Dr E Sreedharan, MD of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, says a handful of environmentalists are coming in the way of saving the river and calls for setting up of an SPV to do the job
When the members of the British parliament sat in the House of Commons on a day in the late 1850s, they could not transact any business on account of the foul stench emanating from the Thames. That was the day the government decided to clean up the river and limit its width by building high retaining walls along both banks. By so confining the river, a new hydrological regime was achieved which resulted in self-cleansing during high and low tides. Sewage and industrial effluents flowing into the Thames were intercepted and taken elsewhere for treatment. The large tract of low-lying areas behind the retaining walls were given for real estate development. And that is how London is today — clean, with majestic and monumental buildings lining the banks of the Thames. The same story appears to have been repeated for all great cities located on river banks whether it is Paris, Budapest, Moscow, New York or Seoul. In all these cities, the river is ‘trained’ (cause to grow in a particular direction or shape) with retaining walls and the banks on either side are beautified with parks, promenades and landmark buildings. Why cannot Delhi also learn lessons from the experience of these cities? The Yamuna river has to be trained and confined to a width that is defined between abutments of the existing bridges by constructing appropriate guide bunds or retaining walls, and the large sprawling tracts of low-lying areas behind these walls utilized for high-end developments which can make the city rich, beautiful and prosperous. A handful of self-styled environmentalists is stalling this idea. The result is rampant encroachments on the riverbed by jhuggis which catch fire at regular intervals every summer, often burning alive a few people. Sewage and untreated industrial waste are let into the river without treatment and nobody owns up responsibility for the same. The so-called environmentalists are vociferous against clean development schemes which are vital for the city, such as Commonwealth Games Village, Metro constructions, Akshardham Temple, etc. If the Yamuna is to be saved, there is only one way. Control the width of the river, not allowing flood waters to inundate the lowlying areas of the city and allow the river to reach its own natural regime in the constricted width. Model studies in the Central Water and Power Research Institute (CWPRI), Khadakvasala, can validate the philosophy of this argument. Two large longitudinal sewers should be built behind the rampart walls to intercept all the sewage falling into the river, take the sewage to a far-off place, and after proper treatment, let the effluents flow into the river. Industries should treat their effluents before they are let into the river. The lowlying areas behind the masonary embankments should be released for high-end development. A Special Purpose Vehicle (Yamuna Development Authority) should be set up under an Act of Parliament, fully empowered to train the river and to manage the developments on the released lowlying areas. The resources needed for all these can be easily raised by exploiting the released riverbeds. In the development plan, a corridor of 300 metres should be reserved adjacent to the river bank for gardens, promenades and recreation centres. Initially the stretch between Wazirabad barrage and Kalindi Kunj could be taken up for river training, and the project can be extended downstream and upstream in due course. The government has already spent more than Rs 1200 crore for cleaning the river. Where has all this money gone? If development as suggested above can be undertaken, the river can be saved, Yamuna can be made clean and the river-fronts can be made the pride of the city. It is time the government and the judiciary listen to the voice of professionals and not to the vague fears of a few so-called environmentalists. In all great cities located on riverbanks, whether it’s Paris, Budapest, Moscow, New York or Seoul, the river is ‘trained’ with retaining walls and the banks beautified with parks, promenades and landmark buildings Two large longitudinal sewers should be built behind the rampart walls to intercept all the sewage falling into the river, then take it to a far-off place and release the sewage into the river after proper treatment These so-called environmentalists are vociferous against clean development schemes vital for the city, such as the Games Village, Metro, Akshardham Temple. It’s time the govt and judiciary listen to the voice of professionals

Friday, May 8, 2009


New Delhi, November 03Indian 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.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Youth for Justice" completes one year of Yamuna campaign

Hundreds came out to celebrate and take pledge to revive Yamuna River
People's movement to save and revive river Yamuna in the capital city of India completes one year as hundreds came out to join celebration organized today by "Youth for Justice", Arya Vir Dal ,Citizen’ front for water democracy, Natural Heritage First, Bhagat Singh Brigade and many other civil society organisations at Central Park, C.P. in Delhi.

It has been a year since Yamuna campaign was launched in Delhi to protest against constructions on the river bed. Various NGOs and resident groups joined this campaign. A large number of public events were done to send message to authorities that the destruction of riverbed is not acceptable to the people of Delhi.

We are analyzing below the roles of various authorities and different organs of the state:

We are disappointed that the construction of Games Village is going on the riverbed. With this gathering we are registering our strong protest with the various organs of the state for not delivering good administration and justice.First and foremost, the judiciary for not giving a judgment on case filed against these constructions. This way the constructions are bound to become a matter of fait accompli. This way people are losing faith in this institution, which was our last hope in the chaos, the nation is going through.

We do thank the Lt. Governor of Delhi, who is also heading the Yamuna River Development Authority, for declaring moratorium on any further constructions on river Yamuna. However, we are taken aback with the rider that it is subject to further studies. There are already existing studies by various technical experts on the subject which disallow any constructions here. Such as by NEERI, MoEF Expert Committee, Yamuna Standing Committee, High Court appointed Monitoring Committee, and Delhi University.

It is really strange that in spite of so many studies, The LG have gone for more studies. What is wrong with the existing studies! Have they been proved wrong by anyone? If not, then why go for another one.

Is this a ploy to justify the constructions through new studies?

The Central Ground Water Board has a role to protect any vital water recharge area. It is an undisputed fact that the sandy composition of the floodplains makes them the best water recharge areas. The floodplains, thus not only having a huge capacity to store water but also plenty of water is available for recharge during the monsoon floods. It is an unresolved query of the public as to why this department is not trying to protect these areas from any destructive activities like construction. If this department is not doing such a vital function, then it better be wound up and its officials be punished for promoting destruction of this city.

The Zonal Plans are showing a massive expansion of the city which will lead to an increased sewage generation. We have failed to understand that when the city has not been able to treat and handle the existing sewage generated, then why we are creating scope for more generation. This expansion in all the Zonal plans should not be allowed till the time we have taken care of the present sewage generation.

A yatra along the river Yamuna downstream of Delhi was organized by Youth for Justice and other supporting NGOs on June 5. We found that the hundreds of villages in Haryana and U.P, downstream of Delhi are severely affected by the sewage released from Delhi. Their aquifers are polluted and the crop quality is suffering, thus polluting the whole food cycle. The latent anger seen in the denizens of these villages, targeted at the real culprit Delhi, was so palpable that we could feel it and its only a matter of time when our own sewage may hit us back.

We see a potential inter state war on the issue of pollution of river waters. It is learnt that the environment minister of Haryana has already once raised this issue.We the citizens of Delhi can not afford to grow irresponsibly and put in peril our own survival.

We need to immediately halt any expansion plans till the time we are able to take care of our existing sewage in a sustainable manner to the satisfaction of our neighboring states, who have to bear the brunt of our waste.

With this, we appeal to all the political parties to explain their stand on the above facts and declare their future strategy by including in their election manifesto.

We pledge that we will continue with our efforts to protect the river Yamuna with greater vigour and if need we will also engage in direct action to save the river.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

YFJ letter to governor for actions on Yamuna


To Shri Tejendra Khanna Ji

Hon'ble Lt. Governor of Delhi

Raj Niwas


Sub. We are thankful for proposed zonal plan for zone "o" and we seek appointment with you.

Respected Sir

On behalf of "Youth for Justice" - A Delhi based youth acyion group, I would like to thank you for proposed zonal plan for zone "o" and thus ensuring a secure and beautiful river Yamuna which is also life line of thi city. Since last one year we have been organising a series of discussions, debates and social events to create awarenessabout importance of riverbed in the city.

This initiative of yours has given us a kind of hope for a safe and secure future. Sir, a delgation of "Youth for Justice" would like to meet you in person to thanks you for the same. We seek you appointment for the same.

Looking forward to your response.


- Kapil Mishra



we are the change we want to see
[A New Delhi based youth social enterprise]

Kapil- 9818066041, Preety- 9311356001, Vikram- 9990200243, Abhijeet-9953037570, Hemraj- 9868853277

Saturday, June 14, 2008

YAMUNA AARTI by Kapil Mishra, Youth for Justice

“यमुना आरती”
जय यमुना जय जल की दाता, कालिंदी तुम जग की माता,
जो कोई तुम्हारे नाम को ध्यावे , कष्ट रोग से मुक्ति पावे .
तुम सूरज की पुत्री प्यारी, दुखियों के सब कष्ट निवारी
यम् नियम तुम्हारे दोउ भाई , भक्तन की तुम सदा सहाई.
श्याम वर्ण अति रूप मनोहर , सुंदर पुष्प माल शोभित कर
तुम विष्णु की अति दुलारी , पातक हारी पाप संहारी .
माँ यमुना पर संकट आयो , नाग कालिया बहुत सतायो,
निर्मल जल विष से भर दीन्हो , बाँधि के तट कष्ट बहु दीन्हो ,
भक्त मुनि सब जाई पुकारा , प्रभु विष्णु तब लिया अवतारा.
कान्हा रूप नन्द घर आये , यमुना तट पर रास रचाये ,
कालीय मर्दन कृष्ण तब कीन्हा , यमुना के सब कष्ट हर लीन्हा
पुनि निर्मल जल भव्य स्वरुपा, यमुना धरी मनोहर रूपा ,
यमुना जल रस बना आधारा, हंसी हंसी कृष्ण कंस को मारा .
सब संतन की रक्षा कीजे , भाई दूज का फल तुम्ही से,
युधिस्ठिर तुम्हारे भेद को जाना, खंदव प्रस्थ तब रहा बियाना
यमुना तट एक नगर बसाया , देवलोक तक विस्मय छाया ,
इन्द्र किये तब वर्षा भारी, यमुना ने तट दिए पसारी
धरती भीतर उदार विस्तारा, वर्षा जल संचित भय सारा
इन्द्र हरा कर स्वर्ग पठायो , इन्द्रप्रस्थ तब नगर कहायो
तुम हो जल अन्न की दाता , अष्ट सिद्धि तुम सुख प्रदाता
चपल चतुर चंचल महारानी , कृष्ण प्रिये तुम्ही पटरानी
कोटी योजन तुम्हरो विस्तारा , कलयुग केवल तुम्ही आधारा.
मात रूप जीवन की दाता, पिता रूप तुम अन्न प्रदाता
सखा रूप फल पुष्प प्रदायी, तुम्हरी महिमा पार न पाई
तुम संत जन कष्ट निवारी, दुष्ट जन तुर्तही संहारी
जय यमुना जय पावन करनी, कष्ट हरण सब मंगल करनी
क्षमा करो हम समझ न पाए , तुमको अगणित कष्ट दिलाये
क्षमा करो हम बांधे तुमको, दूषित जल से सांधे तुमको
क्षमा करो माँ शरण तुम्हारी, क्षमा क्षमा माँ विनती हमारी
जय यमुना जय क्षमा प्रदायी, जय यमुना कालिंदी माई
जय यमुना जय जय महारानी , जय यमुना जय जय पटरानी

-(कपिल मिश्र, यूथ फॉर जस्टिस द्वारा रचित यमुना आरती )

KAPIL-9818066041, VIKRAM- 9990200243, HEMRAJ- 9868853277, PREETY-9311356001,

Friday, June 13, 2008


Green riders to spread awareness about Yamuna pollution
June 4th, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS - Email This Post

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) On World Environment Day Thursday, a group of activists, students and environmentalists will travel on their motorbikes along the most polluted stretch of the Yamuna river, from Delhi to Agra, reminding themselves and sensitizing others of the alarming situation.The 10-day rally, which will have over 25 participants, is called “Qutub se Taj, Ek hi Awaaz”.
Kapil Mishra of the Youth for Justice group, which is spearheading the campaign, said that this rally is just the beginning of a year-long campaign to spread awareness about the Yamuna.
“Through this rally, we will be tracing the most polluted and threatened 200 km stretch of the Yamuna, from Delhi to Agra. While going to Agra, we will travelling on the left bank of the Yamuna and while returning, on the right,” Mishra told IANS.
“Enroute, we will camp at various villages on the river banks like in Faridabad and Ballabhgarh and interact with the villagers - tell them about the deplorable state of the river and how they can do something about it,” he added.
This, Mishra said, will help the group understand the river’s influence on the socio-cultural and religious framework of the society.
The group will reach Agra June 10 when there will be a `aarti’ (traditional Hindu worship) of the river near the Taj Mahal. They will return in Delhi June 15.
A question, though, which pricks one is that why a rally on motorbikes? Wouldn’t bicycles be more eco-friendly?
“We had many discussions on this factor. But we realized that a rally on bicycle for this long a stretch will be very exhausting and time consuming. Moreover, all our motorbikes have their pollution certificates in place.
“And then we felt that it’s better that we do something instead of shelving the entire plan and sit doing nothing,” Mishra said.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


The Yamuna satyagrah Yatra 2008 flags off tomorrow at 9 am from the Satyagrah sthal as planned on an around 600 km journey of a search of the 'satya' of the river from Delhi till Agra and back on either side of the river, as also to establish a baseline of the river as on June 2008. This is to place on record the material support received by us from Jal Biradari, CMS, A group of techies based in Delhi through YOUTH FOR JUSTICE and above all Sri Abhinandan Sekhri who singlehandedly raised almost half of the funds needed for the Yatra. Soliciting blessings and good wishes of all on this list for a useful Yatra.