Why scientists are worried over Nitin Gadkari’s plan for Yamuna

Minister of Road Transport & Shipping, NItin Gadkari (PTI Photo)
If you travel along the Yamuna, what do you see? Besides people praying along the Yamuna, you are also able to see how much our river is polluted. But with the Ministry of Road Transport & Shipping, Nitin Gadkari's plan in store for Yamuna, it is anticipated that a few years down the line we will have a clean Yamuna. And don't be amazed if you see barges and cargo boats in the river.

The incumbent Government is trying to bring life back into the river and is also mulling a 43-kilometre waterway from Narela in New Delhi to Noida. But it seems that the plan is not going well with the environmentalists and scientists.

What is Nitin Gadkari's Yamuna Plan?

• Making the Yamuna navigable.

• To excavate sediment for use in urban construction activity.

• A 43-kilometre waterway from Narela in New Delhi to Noida is being planned by the Government.

• For the Narela to Noida waterway, the Yamuna will be dredged and cleaned.

• A massive beautification drive for the river banks is also in the plan.

• Dredging drives will ensure the minimum navigable depth throughout the 43-kilometer waterway.

• Four barrages will be constructed on the route to maintain the water level.

• These navigational barrages in Delhi stretch of Yamuna are planned to augment the flow of the river.

Why is the dredging needed?

• This waterway would be used mainly for transport of goods.

• Ministry sources claim that if the plan is executed, it will reduce some of the traffic load from the capital's roads, particularly at night when large goods trucks hit the city.

• They also claim that these steps will make the transport cheaper by around 30 per cent.

What are scientists saying?

• As per a TOI report, scientists are taking a cautious approach to all such activities.

• Dredging of rivers and making them navigable will impact the delicate riparian ecosystem.

• It will weaken the river banks.

• It will make the nearby areas vulnerable to floods.

• They say these activities will lead to disturbance in the river morphology.

• It will lead to river bank instability and will destroy the flora and fauna of river.

• Ganga and Yamuna are practically non-navigable rivers.

What are the environmentalists saying?

As per a TOI report, CR Babu, DU professor emeritus and chairman of the state-level expert appraisal committee said, "Dredging the very top layer may be a good idea, if done carefully, as the real riverbed is beneath it. But the organic matter and sewage obviously cannot be used for any construction activity. If they touch the sand beneath it can cause major environmental impacts, as it will change the river system and its course. It will also weaken the river banks."

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