Yamuna may see Kosi-like scene if construction on river not stopped

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New Delhi, Aug 31 (UNI) The recent inundation of the Bihar plains by the Kosi river has lent credence to the argument by environmentalists that increasing construction on the flood plains of the Yamuna river, in the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth games, could well spell a similar disaster for the people of Delhi.

Environmentalists caution that the inundation of many areas of Delhi last week when Yamuna crossed the danger level of 204.83 m following heavy rains in some areas of Uttar Pradesh could well be a warning sign of a Bihar-like disaster swamping the city in the near future if indiscriminate construction being carried out on the Yamuna flood plains continues unhindered.

In fact, environmentalists have been issuing warnings time and again that the infrastructure build-up for the Commonwealth Games village, a major part of which is to be located on the Yamuna flood plains, could affect the river's water table which in turn is likely to increase danger in areas lying in its vicinity being prone to inundation in case of heavy rains in the catchment areas.

Noted Delhi Historian Aditya Awasthi said, ''in recent years there has been spate of constructions on the flood plains of the Yamuna river between Yamuna Pushta in the east and the Ring Road in the west. Notable constructions include the Shastri Park Metro station, a Mall being constructed on the Yamuna near Akshardham temple and the ITO bridge. A transco substation and a DMRC washing yard are some other recent additions to the Yamuna flood plain.

What this construction does is to reduce the level of expansion of the river water in case of a flood which increases the possibility of the river water breaching the embankments in case of heavy rains or release of large amount of water by neighbouring states.'' Suresh Babu of the Centre for Science and Environment further added ''people at the helm of affairs do not realise that this widespread construction on the Yamuna flood plain lead to decrease in the water table of the Yamuna.

Though the possibility of floods is sought to be averted by building embankments on the river, the building of these structures only serves to reduce the width of the river. This is a dangerous trend as in case of a heavy flood, there is a strong possibility of the river water breaching the embankments and entering the city areas.'' He said in the greed to build more and more structures on the riverbed, the powers to be did not realise that even the flood plains are part of a river.

Noting that the Yamuna river had a history of floods, he said the possibility of the inundation of areas in the city in case of a heavy flood in the near future could not be ruled out.

Infact, almost three decades ago, heavy rains in Delhi and the consequent heavy release of water from Tajewala inundated large parts of the city, leaving several people dead.

The fact that the river has a history of changing its course every few decades is endorsed by Aditya Awasthi in his recent book 'Daastan-E-Dilli'.

''Though there has been no change in the situation in the Aravali Hills in the last few centuries, Yamuna has been changing its course from West to East.

In fact, centuries ago, Yamuna was not the river it has become today. It was a river in the real sense - one where water flowed the year round, one where boats plowed all through the year. Infact, many cities in Delhi were settled on the banks of the river.

However, the water of the river has become so polluted today that barring the rainy seasons, drinking it's water and bathing in it is considered dangerous,'' Awasthi said.

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