Monday, April 16, 2012

Sir, action for the rivers is urgent, equally can we permit the vulnerable and the helpless to become victims of greed of vested interests?

16 April 2012
YJA/CORRES/4/12


Dr Manmohan Singh,
Hon'ble Prime Minister of India
Raisina Hills
Govt. of India
New Delhi

Sub: Sir, action for the rivers is urgent, equally can we permit the vulnerable and the helpless to become victims of greed of vested interests?

Respected Dr Singh,

Greetings from Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan.

Sir, as your honour chairs the next meeting of the NGBRA (river Ganga Authority) on the 17th of April 12, allow us to bring a burning issue relating to rivers, to your kind notice.

While this is not the first time that we are raising the issue of river bed protection at the level of your honour, our concern is now no longer limited just to the maintenance of the sanctity of rivers as an ecosystem, but also to the fact that for want of any "mai baap" of our rivers, their river bed has now become perhaps the final frontier of encroacher's ill-designs!

Sir, to make the point please permit us to cite examples from three different cities from three different states, excluding Delhi which is too well known to require reiteration.

Orissa

Large tracts in the state of Orissa went under flood waters during the monsoon of 2008 and again in 2011. This included reportedly parts of a hospital in Bhubaneswar. The reason is not far to seek. The hospital and an engineering college belonging to a private company had been allowed to be raised bang in the river bed. (Kindly see enclosed google image from Bhubaneswar).

Uttarakhand

Large areas in the state of Uttarakhand in basins of river Ganga and Yamuna were affected by floods both during the year 2010 and in 2011. River Asan, which is a major tributary of river Yamuna and which passes through the capital city of Dehradun was naturally one of them. And against the above an Institute for mental patients called the Rajya Mansik Swasthya Sansthan, and a government school have been raised bang in the river bed of Asan's key tributary. (Kindly see the enclosed pictorial report).



Uttar Pradesh

Unwitting citizens of Moradabad city in UP, would perhaps not easily forget the trauma faced by them during the monsoons of 2010 when reportedly the first storey of government sponsored housing society, again raised bang in the river bed of river Ramganga went under flood waters. (Kindly see enclosed google image from Moradabad).

Sir, these incidents are neither isolated (as such instances are being reported from all over the country) nor because the river had gone berserk. But because the planners had forsaken commonsense and permitted hospitals, mental health institutes, schools, colleges and residential colonies to be raised in the river beds.

Sir, your honour would agree with us that in times of urgent evacuation, it is the sick, the elderly and the children who suffer the most as they find it difficult to move with an alacrity to safer places. So is it not a criminal lack of concern for the vulnerable and the helpless or worse instances of collusion and corruption that most unsuitable locations like the river bed have been allowed to be built upon?

Sir, based on the above facts, it is our humble request that a national policy and legislation for safeguarding the river's flood plains be enacted on an urgent basis. At the very least, the states may please be directed to take urgent measures to declare the flood plains (as defined by the 50 - 100 yr flood plains) of their rivers 'out of bounds' for any 'developmental' activity, whatsoever. And in particular no facility that houses the sick, the elderly, children or essential facilities like the police, the power distribution, the fire station, bus station/depot etc that need to remain fully functional in times of crisis be permitted to be raised in river bed / flood plains.

Sir, the fact also remains that it is the flood plains, meant for none else but the flood waters, that see the most damage - due to their unconsolidated state - in the event of earthquakes and almost all parts of the nation has seen earthquakes in recent times. Clearly the river flood plains carry no merit for developmental constructions in them. In addition any public funds invested in raising public facilities in active flood plains would always be at risk of turning into a wasteful expenditure in event of floods either washing them away or requiring major reconstruction post floods.

We hope that our concerns as raised above would find serious consideration and action at the level of your honour. We are, provided an opportunity, most willing anytime to present these and other related facts to your honour in person.

With warm regards,


Manoj Misra
Convener


CC:

Deputy Chairman,Planning Commission, Govt. of India – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Sri Rahul Gandhi, General Secretary (Congress Working Committee) & Member of Parliament – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Environment and Forests - For your kind information and necessary action please.

Sri Tejender Khanna, Hon'ble Lt Governor of Delhi – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Smt Sheila Dixit, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Delhi – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Sri T. Chatterjee, Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Chairman, Delhi Urban Arts Commission – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Chairman, Yamuna Standing Committee, Central Water Commission – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh – For your kind information and necessary action please.


Hon’ble Chief Minister of Orissa – For your kind information and necessary action please.


Comptroller & Auditor General of India – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Hon’ble Governor of Orissa - – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Hon;ble Governor of Uttar Pradesh – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Hon’ble Governor Uttarakhand – For your kind information and necessary action please.

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