Delhi HC orders removal of encroachment, illegal constructions near Yamuna

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed the vice-chairperson of the DDA to remove all encroachments and illegal constructions on the Yamuna river bank, the river bed as well as on drains flowing into the river.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan appointed the DDA vice-chairperson as the nodal officer for coordinating with officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the Delhi Police, DMRC, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, PWD, the Delhi Pollution Control Board as well as the Forest Department for this purpose, and asked him to convene a meeting of all officials concerned within a week.

The court passed the order on July 8 while dealing with a petition seeking directions to demolish certain unauthorised constructions on the Yamuna river bank near Shaheen Bagh.

The plea also sought a direction to the authorities to take steps to prevent illegal constructions on the Yamuna river bank and its floodplain in the near future.

"Keeping in view the aforesaid, this Court directs the Vice Chairman, DDA, to remove all encroachments and illegal construction on the Yamuna river bank, river bed and drains flowing into river Yamuna," ordered the bench, also comprising Justice Tushar Rao Gedela.

The court asked the DDA vice-chairperson to file an action taken report within six weeks.

The petitioner's lawyer contended that besides endangering the ecologically fragile Yamuna floodplain and causing pollution, unregulated construction near the river endangered the lives of people during monsoon.

Counsel for the authorities admitted that being an important component of the river ecosystem, the floodplain was a "prohibited activity zone" and any encroachment there led to diversion of water leading to floods in adjacent areas.

The counsel cited experts to say that the floods in Delhi were manmade as they were caused primarily due to encroachment of drains, river banks and river beds which restricted the flow of water into the Yamuna.

The counsel for the Delhi Police and the government said a number of representations with regard to illegal and unauthorised constructions on the Yamuna river bank have been forwarded to the DDA and the MCD for appropriate action.

On April 8, while dealing with a case it has initiated on its own over waterlogging in Delhi during monsoon, the high court had ordered removal of encroachment from the Yamuna floodplain and sought a report from the DDA on development of biodiversity parks and wetland there.

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