Yamuna river, floodplain abused in Delhi

Over all 23 bridges including rail, road, metro and barrages have been built and 3 are under construction in a limited stretch of 22 km on river Yamuna in Delhi, India. Thus on an average, there is a bridge at every 800 metre. The creation of new embankments, guide bunds to facilitate these construction are eating into significant area of already worst exploited riverbed and floodplain of Yamuna.

Riverbed and floodplains of Yamuna river have been abused at Mayur Vihar, Kale Khan, Barapulla extension site and Signature Bridge location. In all approximately 90,000 square metre area of riverbed, flood plain has been filled with construction debris in recent past. Large pieces of concrete waste can also be seen in the floodplain. Shockingly the solid and plastic waste highlighted in pictures on February 16, 2020 have been dumped and levelled right beneath the road bridges on riverbed. The cumulative impact of dumping, levelling and raising of riverbed and construction of these 70 pillars in a narrow stretch at the location have led to a bottle neck situation significantly obstructing smooth passage of flood waters. The evident damage is clearly visible in Google Earth images. In addition to the encroachments, within about 600 metre of river stretch now a third bridge is being built between Signature Bridge and Wazirabad Barrage. 

These structure are fragmenting the floodplain, promoting encroachments, and also leaving a trail of construction and demolition debris into riverbed and floodplains.

It is urgently necessary that all central and state government agencies seriously look into adverse aspects of these cross sectional embankments and should not permit any new bridge on river Yamuna until thoroughly studying and mitigating the impacts of existing ones.

This article was published by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). It is an informal network working on issues related to rivers, communities and large scale water infrastructure like dams: their environmental and social impacts, their performance and issues related to governance of rivers and dams.

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