Concrete structures on Yamuna flood plains might be demolished

Agra: Concrete illegal structures on the Yamuna flood plains in the Agra region are in line for demolition if the stern warning and notice issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is an indication of the shape of things to come.

The notice, returnable on May 26, came on a public suit filed by D.K. Joshi, an environmentalist and a member of the Supreme Court monitoring committee on environmental issues in the Taj Trapezium Zone.

The notice was issued to the divisional commissioner of Agra, the vice chairman of the Agra Development Authority (ADA), the municipal commissioner of Agra and the head of the UP Jal Nigam, asking why builders were permitted to raise multi-storeyed structures on the Yamuna flood plains in blatant violation of high court orders restricting construction activity within 500 metres of the river.

"The ADA had identified 59 buildings on the flood plains in 2013 but no action was taken to demolish them," Joshi told IANS.

In his 200-page suit, complete with photographs, annexures and court orders, Joshi has asked for immediate orders to clear the flood plains to ensure the safety of life and to save the river. The fear generated by the April 25 Nepal earthquake has also to be taken note of, Joshi said.

Joshi, who has made 14 government departments party to the petition, has also raised the issue of garbage being dumped on the river bed and along the river banks. Civic laws restrict the dumping of hazardous substances in the river.

Joshi said that the flood plains had been usurped by squatters in Mau, Jaganpur, Khaspur, Dayal Bagh, Sikandrapur, Poiya Ghat, Ghatwasan and Naraich and that no environment impact assessment (EIA) had been conducted.

Joshi has asked the NGT to give clear-cut orders for demolishing all illegal structures on the flood plains and issue guidelines for future construction activity along the riverfront.

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