WhatÔÇÖs going on in the Gomti River?

AJIT CHAK/LUCKNOW :

LucknowÔÇÖs lifeline and a source of fish for the adjoining villages the Gomti river which ravaged the city with several floods has been under the keen eye of the Lucknow Development Authority and Uttar Pradesh bureaucrats ever since the concept of creating colonies and housing and commercial complexes came up in the city.

It was the 1990s which saw the farmlands placed in the floodplains of the Gomti river vanish and these turned into the super colony known as Gomtinagar. Ever since this colony has come up sources say the water table in the city has fallen by over a hundred feet. No wonder an acute water shortage grips the city of nawabs every summer.

This summer the worst could happen as the Gomti which used to flow through the city has been cordoned off by the work initiated in the name of reviving the river and beautifying the river front. The river has ceased to flow through the city and has become a cement channel in some areas.
Work is going on to dredge the river and a company called Gammon India seems to be calling the shots as its sign boards are placed there.

Agencies like UP irrigation department, LMC, LDA, DUDA (District Urban Development Agency) and Jal Nigam are dredging, strengthening of river wall, riverfront beautification, diverting nullahs to sewage treatment plants and even building public toilets on its banks. The work is being carried out by the top bureaucrat of the state Alok Ranjan overseeing the work.

A PIL filed in the High Court against the proposal was rejected by the Allahabad High Court and the work has been carrying on since then but local environmentalists fear that the river ecology has been damaged forever and it shall be a dead nallah henceforth.

The River now has construction companies dumping granite ballast and earth and cement on both sides so that the land area that emerges as a result can be used to set up restaurants, amusement parks and discotheques and so on. Later it is feared big builders with powerful political connections could grab this prime property for commercial or housing projects.

Vaibhav Maheshwari the spokesperson of the Aam Aadmi Party in Lucknow says that the entire project is an environmentalistsÔÇÖ nightmare as they are playing with the ecology of the river.

ÔÇ£If the government has obtained the approval of any Green Tribunal or authority for this project they should make it clear and public,ÔÇØ he says,ÔÇØ Otherwise it seems they are doing this under the pretext of creating commercial land in the heart of the city against all environmental norms.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£This is similar to the manner in which they treated the rivers in Kedarnath in Uttarakhand and we got to see the result of that,ÔÇØ he adds.
Will Lucknow too end up facing a severe environmental disaster now that the Gomti is being encroached upon in this manner? Only time will tell. However pictures show that the river is on the verge of choking under piles of earth and granite ballast and cement.

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