Tribunal’s order to demolish structures ignored

Agra, May 31 (IANS) Even after 10 days of the National Green Tribunal directing that all illegal structures in the flood plains of the Yamuna from Delhi to Agra be demolished, action is yet to be taken.

The National Green Tribunal May 20 announced that the illegal construction along the Taj corridor should be demolished within four weeks.

Ten days on, the buildings are still standing. Except for meetings, no concrete plan of action has been drawn up.

“The confusion springs from the lack of clear-cut definition of flood-plains,” an official of the Agra Development Authority (ADA) said.

The ADA blames the Uttar Pradesh irrigation department, which passes the buck to the municipal corporation authorities.

“It looks like total confusion,” said eco-activist Ravi Singh. Petitioner Akash Vashisht told IANS: “The order is unambiguous, clear-cut and leaves no room for manoeuvring or manipulation. Buildings or farmhouses that have come up on the river’s flood-plains have to be removed.”

Builders and owners of houses question the Green Tribunal’s laxity to order the state government to demolish and remove the debris from the Taj Corridor on 80 acres of the river bed, sandwiched between two world heritage monuments, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort.

District Forest Officer N.K. Janoo told IANS that “the Taj Corridor issue is pending in the Supreme Court. Only the apex court can decide what is to be done with the structures. We have asked for permission to green the whole area.”

Activist Shravan Kumar Singh accuses the Green Tribunal of double standards.

“Being a government project, the Taj Corridor has not been touched. Before they start demolishing the private encroachments along the Yamuna, it would be fair to remove the corridor also, which has choked all the aquafiers of the river that charge the underground reserves.”

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