Vrindavan, 2019-10-30 (VT): The demand for bringing back Yamuna to the Ghats of Vrindavan has been a long-standing one among the saint and activist community of the holy town. Environmentalists and others who appreciate and care for Vrindavan’s heritage have time and again gathered under the umbrella of organisations/initiatives to protest and litigate against the destruction of these Ghats and their natural beauty which is solely because of the waters of Yamuna meandering past them.
One such organisation, the Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance (BVHA), has on earlier occasions opposed mindless ‘development’ projects on the ancient ghats, be it the Akhilesh Yadav-led UP govt’s ‘Riverfront Development’ or the ‘half-moon bridge’ in front of Keshi Ghat that was planned under CM Mayawati in 2009. The alliance has for long been demanding the release of Yamuna water to Vrindavan Ghats.
Recently well-known environmental expert from Delhi University, Professor C.R. Babu who has also been in-charge of two biodiversity parks- Yamuna Biodiversity Park and Aravalli Biodiversity Park – visited the entire stretch of Yamuna that passes along the Ghats and submitted his recommendations for their revival and the beautification of the river front.
The following observations were made during the visit which was conducted along with the chief engineer and his team,
“The river Yamuna with its vast flood plains on either side traverse the area (Figure 1) and has meandering (Figure 1a) at the Bathing Ghat Zone. The flood plain was separated from the Bathing Ghats by a road (Figure 2) which was laid on the flood plain. The flood plain and the water course of one channel was completely encroached and massive buildings were constructed (Figures 3-5). The sewage from unauthorised settlements are discharged into river Yamuna. Another major drain pass through the floodplain and then joins Yamuna (Figure 6). A sewer pipeline (Figure 7) from the city was laid on the flood plain and discharge sewage into river water where
a bathing ghat was created by erecting a RCC wall along the channel (Figure 7). There are many make shift temples (Figure 8). Several solid waste dumps (Figures 9 & 10) were scattered all over the flood plains. Plastic waste dumps are also common. he monsoon water in the channels, no riparian ecosystems were observed along 5 km stretch of the Bathing Ghats. The riparian ecosystems along the stretch of Vrindavan were almost extinct.”
The report titled “site visit to Vrindavan to assess the revival of 400-500 old Bathing Ghats along the Yamuna river front” identifies the revival of Bathing Ghats and restoration of the river front along 5 km stretch as a major issue, and proposes the below action plan for it.
ACTION PLAN PROPOSED FOR REVIVAL OF GHATS AND BEAUTIFICATION OF RIVER FRONT
- All unauthorised structures including the road located on the flood plain and close to one of the river channel and in front of Bathing Ghats should be removed.
- The sewage that enters into the Yamuna must be tapped before it pass through the flood plain and should be treated by constructed wetlands.
- All the solid waste dumps, sewer pipes, make shift temples and plastic dumps should be removed from the flood plains.
- As per the standing orders of NGT, the MC Commissioner should initiate demarcation of flood plains based on 25 year flood episode, and start imposing fines for dumping solid waste and as well as religious materials.
- To revive the old Ghats the following options are recommended.
(a) A channel may be taken along the renovated Bathing Ghats from the upstream channel of the river and then connect it to the river channel at the downstream of the renovated Ghats. This requires prior permission from irrigation Department of UP, and the Engineers present at the site agreed to implement it. While implementing this option, the levels of flood waters should be taken into conservation.
It may be noted that one channel leading to old Ghats existed but filled up and encroached resulting no water along the old Ghats. This is evident from the Google Image (Figure 1b). In other words simple removal of encroachment on the filled up channel and its desilting will result in flow of water to old Bathing Ghats. This should be given high priority.
(b) For putting the renovated Ghats for immediate use, a culvert with regulator can be made across the bund in the upstream of Ghats and the water from the river channel can be drawn through another drainage pipe of 1 m diameter into the Ghats and allow the water into the river channel through a culvert with a regulator across the road at the downstream of Ghats.
(c) Since the Bathing Ghats are located on the edge of floodplain, digging the channel with a gentle slope to a depth of 1.5-2 m from the lowest step of the Ghats may result in getting ground water from the recharged flood plain and the ground water is as good as or even better than the river. The water can be pumped back into the river channel periodically.
- No untreated sewage should be allowed to discharge into river. All sewage should be treated by conventional technologies or alternative technologies such as constructed wetland system.
- The effluent from Kosi industrial town should be treated in effluent treatment plant before it is discharged into river.