NGT order on water release in Yamuna cheers activists

Agra/Mathura (IANS) The National Green Tribunal’s directive to the Haryana government to release 10 cumecs (cubic meters per second) of water into the Yamuna river from Hathini Kund barrage was on Saturday welcomed by the region’s environmentalists and NGO activists.

Though the quantity ordered to be released was not much, at least a beginning had been made, it was pointed out.

While monitoring the implementation of ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project’, NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar on Thursday took the Haryana government to task for “dragging its feet” in the implementation of earlier Supreme Court and NGT decisions to release water in the Yamuna.

The governments of UP, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh were also directed to interact with an official panel led by Shashi Shekhar to sort out the issue of minimal release of water in the Yamuna.

The committee was formed in January 2015, and comprises secretaries of environment and water resources ministries, state government secretaries of related departments, commissioners of different municipal corporations and vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority.

“Though not much in terms of quantity, but at least a beginning has been made,” said Jagan Nath Poddar, convener of the ‘Friends of Vrindavan’.

Braj Bachao Samiti members welcomed the move and wanted more water to be released for downstream cities, which was allegedly diverted by the Haryana government through the Hathini Kund barrage for irrigation.

“A minimal flow was required to maintain the river’s ecology. The acquatic life in the river too needed minimum water for survival,” said Shravan Kumar Singh of ‘Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society’ in Agra.

Pointing out that release of water in the Yamuna was one of the main demands of the ‘Yamuna Muktikaran Abhiyan’, its convener Radha Krishan Shastri said that the NGT was doing a “good job”. “It is an important decision,” he quipped.

Jai Krishan Das, national convener of ‘Yamuna Rakshak Dal’ said that the NGT order provided a “ray of hope” for those who wanted the river to thrive.

Meanwhile, Rhais Qureshi of ‘Braj Bachao Samiti’ said that 40 to 50 ponds had been cleaned in the district and filled with canal water, which was good news for water availability in the area.

Divisional Commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar also formally launched a pipeline project to bring the Ganges waters to the Yamuna. The project – with a completion deadline of December 2017 – will benefit both Mathura and Agra, officials said.

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