By Sami Ahmad:
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently ordered that any person who is found dumping debris on the river bank in the Geeta Colony site, and for that matter, in any site, shall be liable to pay a sum of Rs. 5 lakh for causing pollution as well as for removal of the debris from the site in question, related to the dumping of debris along the Yamuna river in Delhi.
With this judgement in backdrop, one cannot help but wonder at the fate of various ‘late-runner’ projects on the banks of the Yamuna. These construction sites generate massive amounts of debris, besides consuming river and ground water for their purposes. The longer these projects stand, the prolonged is the damage incurred by the river and the biodiversity around it. In this photo story, I have tried to cover two such sites. The Signature Bridge was to be ready before the Commonwealth Games in 2010. However, the delay has caused a massive increase in the expenditure of the project, making it impossible to roll it back. Today, the project is still nowhere to completion. Another private project by Supertech is the ‘Supernova Spira‘, a skyscraper near the Yamuna which is being built since 2012. The pertinent question that rises is that, even if these projects are given clearances on the environment front, is there an immediate need to time bound such projects?
The Signature Bridge is being constructed near Wazirabad and will connect North Delhi and East Delhi. With its steel towers planned to be double the height of the Qutab Minar and waterfront development also in the pipeline, the project is expected to be a tourist attraction.
Initially planned with a budget of Rs. 1,131 crore, the cost has escalated to nearly Rs. 1,600 crore and is a reason why the government cannot scrap the project at this stage even if it wanted to. The bridge was supposed to be ready by early 2010.
However, the delay in completion of these projects has wrecked havoc on the river and its banks alike.
The construction of the Supernova building by Supertech was started in 2012 and currently seems to be nowhere close to completion. Still used to obsolete methods of construction, India has a long way to go when it comes to developing infrastructure in a sustainable way.
The loose soil deposited to divert the river for construction, tends to end up as Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM). Without adequate foliage on the river banks to hold it; matters have just become worse. Seen here, a shed to protect workers from dust storms in the heat of May.
While crores of rupees are being spent on the cleaning projects of Yamuna, one has to ask why waste has to be released into it in the first place. Below, is a view of the Wazirabad bridge construction while the cleaning takes place by one solitary Crane Truck.
The water is rendered pitch black due to the untreated effluents flowing in from nearby construction sites.
The water of the river is so unfit that it cannot even be used for construction purposes. Thus, these sites turn to groundwater sources which leads to further depletion of the water table.
The river seems to be overpowered by the overwhelming presence of sand deposited, to provide the base for construction. The longer the project stands, these mountains become a part of the ecology of the river, causing it less room to manoeuvre.
It is thus imperative for the government to ensure the timely completion of public and private projects around the river. The ‘Signature Bridge’ will, no doubt, be a great tourist attraction, but at what cost?