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Clear Yamuna Bank of encroachments: Delhi HC

The High Court has ordered the Vice Chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to remove all encroachments and illegal structures from the banks, river bed and inflow channels of the Yamuna river.

In its July 8 order, the court also asked the DDA vice-chairman to submit an action report within six weeks and list the case for hearing on September 9.

The directive came in response to a petition filed by Shabnam Burney, which highlighted unauthorized construction on the banks of the Yamuna around the Shaheen Bagh area.

Although the petition was limited to the Shaheen Bagh area, the Delhi government recommended the court to pass directions for demolition of illegal structures and encroachments across the entire river bed, banks and drains flowing into the river.

The high court also appointed the DDA vice-chairman as nodal officer with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Delhi Police, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Public Works Department, Delhi Pollution Control Board and Forest Department.

It directed the DDA Vice Chairman to convene a meeting of all relevant officials within a week.

In her petition, Ms Burney said the illegal construction was carried out without permission or consideration of environmental concerns.

The complaint said the illegal construction would endanger the ecologically fragile floodplains of the Yamuna River.

The complaint stated that illegal and unauthorized construction is causing air pollution in the area and further causing respiratory problems due to the presence of huge dust particles.

Lawyers for the local government acknowledged that the floodplain area is a prohibited area and an important part of the river ecosystem.

The authorities admitted that the encroachment in the area resulted in the diversion of water flow, leading to flooding in neighboring areas. They pointed out that many experts believe that the floods in Delhi are man-made as the main cause of the floods is erosion of drains, banks and river beds, restricting the flow of water to the Yamuna.

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