Kejri-Centre's clean Yamuna project going nowhere

Kejri-Centre's clean Yamuna project going nowhere

The ambitious project of the Delhi and Central governments to give Yamuna river a new lease of life has not moved forward.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had last August announced joining hands with the Central government to create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to clean the river.

Over the last many years, several action plans and other projects costing over Rs 900 crore have failed and the SPV was touted as the one-stop solution to clean the river.

The project’s main aim was to stop the “multiplicity of agencies” in charge of Yamuna and the SPV was to function on the lines of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), carrying out cleaning and riverfront development of the 22-km stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi single-handedly.

Currently, the area is shared by various land owning agencies like Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Forest Department, municipal corporations and the Delhi government.

A blueprint in this connection was supposed to have been prepared in the next 45 days – by October last year.

While many hailed the cooperation of the two governments, which are mostly seen at loggerheads, six months on and the project seems to be stuck in the pipeline. Since work on the river is not coordinated by any single authority, the SPV had to have on board 15 representatives from different agencies.

Lack of political will
While experts blame the lack of political will in cleaning the Yamuna, Delhi government sources say that they have not received any response from the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

“The ministry had to send a note to us regarding it. But even that has not come till now. We have communicated to them but there has been no response. We have been told that there have been no meetings on the issue till now,” said a Delhi government official on condition of anonymity.

Another official complained that the Delhi government was not getting enough funds from the Centre for the project.

Union Ministry of Water Resources officials could not be reached for comment.
The need for an SPV has been reiterated often and it also assumes significance as cleaning Yamuna was one of the major poll promises of both the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharatiya Janata

However, with the AAP
government in Delhi completing one year this Sunday and BJP in its second year in office at the Centre, experts say nothing has changed for the river.

“Though the objectives of the SPV were not clear when the project was announced, a single entity working on river rejuvenation is much required. It is very unfortunate that it has been delayed,” said Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.

“The NGT (National Green Tribunal) judgment on Yamuna had come last year in January and even after one year, nothing has changed. Events like Maha-aarti are just photo-ops,” he added.

“The Delhi government says that people will be able to bathe in clean Yamuna in three years but how will they achieve it? It is not in the priority list of both the Centre and the Delhi government and they are not serious about it as cleaning of Yamuna will not directly get them votes in the next election,” said Vikrant Tongad, an environmentalist with Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE).

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