No one knows who built this ‘ghost’ road on Yamuna, experts shocked, DDA unaware | delhi news

Delhiites can’t get enough roads and now, it seems, someone has built a road right across Yamuna, one of the longest rivers of the country and a lifeline for millions.

HT has found that the segment of the river between Yamuna Bank and Indraprastha Metro stations has a kuccha road nearly 100 metre long and 3 metre wide built with concrete debris, soil and waste material. The road connects the eastern bank with a river island in the middle and no one knows who built it.

When HT told environmentalists about the road, they were shocked. Ecologists said it is already constricting the water flow and was bound to hit every natural activity in the river bed, from silt transportation to groundwater recharge and revival of subsoil bacteria. “Till now encroachment activities were restricted to the river’s banks. But this is actually an attempt to fill up the Yamuna. It is very dangerous as it blocks the river’s ecological flow,” said ecologist CR Babu, who was a member of the committee appointed by NGT to look into the alleged damage to the river’s flood banks by an event organised by Art of Living in March 2016.

The location of the road seems to have been strategically chosen as it is right under the Blue Line metro bridge and can be easily missed. Only a small portion of it is visible from the metro while travelling from Yamuna Bank to Indrapastha.

Environmentalists say the road is already blocking the flow of the river.
(Sushil Kumar/HT PHOTO)

While the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had no clue about the illegal road, villagers living in the flood banks too claimed innocence. The road is, however, regularly used by villagers and cattle grazers to take their animals to a river island in the middle for grazing.

“Usually, a river erodes one bank and deposits the silt on the other bank. It could be naturally built by erosion. We will have to look into the matter and have it removed if it has been illegally constructed,” a senior DDA official said, adding that department officials will visit the spot.

Only a part of the road can be seen from the metro while travelling from Yamuna Bank to Indrapastha.
(Sushil Kumar/HT PHOTO)

A research paper published in the Current Science journal in 2014 had pointed out that about 50 to 60 per cent of virgin flow is necessary throughout the year to maintain health of the Yamuna river system.

“If the flow is obstructed the river would not just start depositing the silt further north, but there could be algal growth in the still water which in turn would further choke the river. Pollutants in still water would gradually spread to underground aquifers leading to ground water contamination on the banks,” said Shashank Shekhar, assistant professor of geology in Delhi University and a member of the research team.

The villagers living in the flood banks said they had no clue who built the road, though they regularly use it now to take their animals across for grazing.
(Sushil Kumar/HT PHOTO)

The riverine island, formed due to years of deposition, serves as a grazing ground for cattle and divides the river into two channels which ultimately unite a few metres down. One villager, who refused to disclose this identity, however, claimed that a huge amount of debris was dumped in the river nearly two months ago to raise the height of the road.

This comes at a time when the National Green Tribunal is monitoring the Maili Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had recently expressed its satisfaction over the status of the project.

“It is a shame. DDA is clearly sleeping if not in collusion. This is also in the teeth of the NGT’s judgements. Shall the government and Lieutenant Governor intervene to save the Yamuna?” said river activist Manoj Mishra.

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