The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has finally kick-started its long-awaited ambitious plan to give a new lease of life to the Yamuna river by developing its front.
Under the project, the DDA will create recreational parks, wetlands, cycling tracks and a forested buffer area on the area spanning 500 acres between the Old Railway Bridge and ITO Bridge.
According to a notification by the DDA to the monitoring authority, National Green Tribunal, the first phase out of the four phases of development of the western bank, will reach its culmination by April 2018. The total cost of developing the western bank is estimated at approximately Rs 10 cr reported the Times of India.
While the DDA has already planted over 800 trees on the floodplain, the next plan of action is to develop the area around Golden Jubilee Park in Yamuna Pushta. A 300m green buffer will be developed from the edge of the river and will comprise of floodplain forests and grasslands.
A 3.5 km long, 100-150m wide strip will be developed along the Salimgarh Bypass and utilised as ‘’greenway’ for cyclists. A 2.5 km walkway will also be constructed.
“We will develop pathways in the green buffer for people to use. But it will be largely developed as a floodplain forest,” an official told the Times of India.
According to an Indian Express report, the process of beautification will involve eco-friendly methods. To limit the use of concrete, wood will be used to construct the walkway.
While natural depressions will be converted into wetlands, the majority of the area will be developed as a floodplain forest, expressed the officials.
Taking the Yamuna flooding every 25 years into consideration, DDA will also allot adequate holding space. Special plants that can survive high water levels will be planted in the green buffer area.
The rationale behind the project is to helped Delhi connect to nature and help restore the degrading river contaminated by industrial effluents and sewage to its former glory. DDA may undertake a separate water treatment solution for the Yamuna too, the Express reported.
The idea is to not only create ecological balance but also promote tourism and boost the economy.
But one of the major roadblocks for the DDA is an encroachment by farmers and slum dwellers.
Despite the DDA claiming ownership through information boards, and ban on agricultural activity on the floodplain, many farmers growing vegetables there claim to have been living in the area for over 30 years.
“Encroachment removal remains a big challenge for us. Some residents have got stay orders from courts, though we have moved the Supreme Court to get the stays vacated. We will first reclaim the land that these people cultivate and then carry out the demolition of huts,” an official told TOI