[Reader-list] Yamuna is being shifted - read on...

Ratish Nanda ratishn at gmail.com
Sat Aug 18 23:36:22 IST 2007

Dear Friends,

Yesterday a bizzare plan was unfolded (in the name of public debate) for
river Yamuna in the Magnolia Hall of India Habitat Centre.

Jointly organised by Delhi Tourism and TERI, a grandiose 18,000 crores plan
(later admitted to be nothing more than a dream) was unveiled by a
consulting firm called Fairwood Consultants Pvt Ltd.

The plan in a nut shell proposes:

a) Build large reservoirs on River Yamuna and River Hindon in Delhi and in
UP upstream of Delhi to catch rain water and to join the two reservoirs
through a canal to divert flood waters of river Yamuna away from the main
stream flowing through the city into another reservoir downstream of Delhi
at the confluence of Hindon with Yamuna in UP/Haryana.
b) Channelise the river Yamuna and Hindon within the city stretch of 22 km
and 44 km respectively and develope the river fronts

The plan falls flat and its sinister design becomes apparent once one gets
to the plan's premise and its viability even on the basis of extremely
limited knowledge made available about it in the public domain.

The premise for the grandiose design is

a) The city of Delhi needs water for its growing population (*Agreed*)

b) Since the river is as good as dead in the city and the flood plain in the
city is prone to encroachment and slumisation so *the state must do
something about it* in a planned manner rather in a piecemeal fashion that
is going on at the moment ( *This is some admission after hundreds of crores
of foreign aid has gone down the drain in the name of Yamuna Action Plan
!!!!. Why and how are the slums created. It was the Asiad in 1982 which
engendered the most slums in the city consisting of construction workers who
decended on the town for the feverish construction activity for the games
and never went back. The vicious cycle is waiting to happen again in the
city in the wake of some Rs 20,000 crore - figure quoted to us by a senior
government official - worth of investments planned for the Commonwealth
Games now *)

c) The river is already channelised in a sense that since most bridges on it
are nothing but raised roads (*It has been a monumental mistake in the city
which should be remedied through ameliorative actions which are feasible
rather seen as a fait accompli and hence an excuse for further
channelisation of the river *)

d) Most cities in the world have developed river fronts (*All such cities
are western cities with rivers which have little in parallel to our monsoon
fed rivers and hence such wishful comparisons are baseless and dangerous.
Even there in London and Paris they are learning at great cost the dangers
from floods of such developments on the river banks *)

f) Real estates opportunities of such a plan are immense (*THIS IS ACTUALLY
THE REAL AGENDA OF THIS PLAN. Even if given where is the infrastructure
required for such massive real estate development in the city which is
already bursting at its seams *)

*In short the plan suggests that since we have not spared any effort to kill
the river then rather think of reviving it let us kill it in a planned
manner than in any piecemeal fashion.*

Indeed a smart way to fulfill this state's all too clear agenda of selling
the river bed to the highest bidder.

*Yes, the state must do something about the river. But it is to revive the
river in its entirety and as a free flowing river with its flood plains
intact for now and forever. It has the mandate and it has the means. If only
it also had the right intent and the will !!!!! *

No wonder every shylock in the town led by the Delhi Tourism (remember they
were the guys behind the impugned month long shopping extravaganza called
the Times Global Village in the river bed early this year just north of DND
flyway which the HC of Delhi has already found to be illegal from day one)
and Delhi government have jumped onto it.

What surprises and amazes one is the fact that a presumably respectable
organisation like TERI (trying to lead the Climate Change agenda all over
the world) has no qualms in associating itself with such a hairbrained and
preposterous an idea / concept whose viability is at great question if on
nothing else but the uncertainities associated with the impacts of Climate
Change (obviously the presenter was not even aware of such a term or

That they had no clue about what they were talking about becomes clear from
one of their slides which bemoans lack of "marine" life in river Yamuna in
Delhi and their vision being to bring it back. (surely with greater money
they can certainly dream at least of getting the Bay of Bengal to get them
sea water in Delhi so that they could get the marine life into a fresh water

Jokes apart the proposal is preposterous to say the least.

One shudders to think as to how easily such ignoramus fly-by-night operators
whose only qualification is to weave thosands of crores worth projects and
present them as glossy power -pointers to powers that be get easy access to
and even nodding heads amongst the current breed of our politician /
bureacracy and even experts like Dr Pachauri at TERI?

The knowledgeable in the gathering made it amply clear that you can't create
the kind of reservoirs planned in plains in a sustained manner since the
first monsoon would silt them up badly. And if that is unviable then
anything rest in the said plan is a foolish dream that dries up the next

Unfortunately "water" for Delhi has come to be seen to be such a milking cow
that any smart alec can get the powers that be to loosen their purse strings
for any such fancy idea. (One doesn;t know how many crores of tax payer's
money did the Delhi Tourism pay Fairwood Consultants for this

How foolish can we become when we can't see the value of our existing
underground reservoir underneath the existing flood plain (estimated to be
worth some 10,000 crores per year over the 50 km stretch in Delhi - in just
water terms - by Prof. Soni and his team) and are hell bent on destroying
them for some fancy idea that deserves to be nipped in the bud at the first

We want to create surface reservoirs that may never be and destroy the
underground ones that have existed for centuries and today feed 50% of Delhi
with capacity for more.

This city needs benign floods every monsoon to recharge the underground
aquifers and enough flood plains to withstand the ravages of any future 10
yr, 25 yr, 50 yr or 100 yr frequency floods. We owe this to our future

No wonder every commentator in that house found problems with the
concept called the "Yamuna Redevelopment Plan" which better would have been
called the Yamuna - made to order - destruction plan.

How far would the rapacious eyes of the state on the Yamuna flood plain



Ratish Nanda
Conservation Architect
1559, Sector B, Pocket 1
Vasant Kunj
New Delhi 110070

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