Govt assures HC Commonwealth Games not to hamper Yamuna ecology

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New Delhi, Feb 5 (UNI) The Delhi Development Authority(DDA) today told the Delhi High Court that construction of flats for the Commonwealth Games on the Yamuna river bed will not violate the ecology of the river.

Solicitor General G E Vahanvati suggested to the Court to appoint a monitoring committee to look into the construction as well as post construction of the flats at the games village. Proper steps for environmental safeguards, including the ground water recharge arrangement, have been ensured, Mr Vahanvati added.

Arguing before the bench of Justices A K Sikri and Rekha Sharma, the Solicitor General said the construction of games village was in the larger interest of the nation. About 10,000 participants and officials would be housed there. Therefore, all steps to protect the river ecology were being taken into consideration, he added.

Mr Sanjay Parikh, counsel for petitioner Sanjay Kaul told the Court that the permanent structures being built at the river bed would cause harm to the ecology of the river and once the structures were sold away, all the sewage would be dumped into the river causing threat to the ecology.

Justice Sikri asked Mr Vahanvati whether there was any way out that temporary structures were built there and the players and guests were housed somewhere else.

The Court asked Mr Vahanvati ''Look here, today you are constructing the flats and selling them and tomorrow if you have to host some other games or Olympics, will you again go looking for more space in Delhi?'' ''See what happened in Asiad 82. All the flats were sold. At that time there were no buyers but still the flats were sold away and again there is a crisis for land,'' Justice Sikri said.

Mr Vahanvati said the government has already entered into the concept of Public private partnership where private parties will invest and give DDA some margin in the profits earned out of selling these flats.

Mr Parikh said the government was duty bound to protect the river's biodiversity. ''The river is dying, crores of rupees have been spent on rehabilitating Yamuna and crores more will be spent.

But the government itself is the violator of all laws to maintain ecological balance. Despite the Supreme Court order, the government has till now not even done proper embankment of the river. No action has been taken to revive the river. If this is the way the government will look after its responsibility than what will happen to its citizens,'' Mr Parikh added.

Court will hear the further arguments on February 8.

UNI SNG SP RN1849

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