Razing of huts at Yamuna plains hits students hard
The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) directive, banning farming on the Yamuna floodplains, demolition of hutments and clearing of standing crops in the area have obviously affected the residents. But schoolchildren stand to be the worst suffferers as the mid-term exams are underway.
Following the NGT’s order, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) started demolishing the hutments of farmers and clearing the standing crops in the area last week.
“On September 21, when I returned after taking my first paper, I was shocked to find our ‘home’ demolished and my family rendered homeless. All I could see was a mountain of rubble,” said Kriti, a Class 11 student at the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Mayur Vihar.
“My exams started last week and will continue till October 4. I am unable to study for my exams. I am more concerned about my family’s safety rather than my studies as we don’t have any place to stay,” said Rinki, a student of Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Patparganj.
The Mayur Vihar floodplain is home to over 10,000 farmers, who cultivate crops on leased land. These farmers, most of whom migrated from neighboring states, grow vegetables and flowers. They have been into agriculture from generations. The agrarian community here lives in shacks with no power supply. Farming has only provided the community with the bare minimum frequired for sustenance.
Around 2,000 children of farmers study in government schools and colleges. Many from the area are studying in Delhi University and aspire to join government jobs and social services like NGOs.
The NGT had in January 2015 directed the Delhi government and the DDA to ensure that no cultivation was carried out on the Yamuna floodplains, saying that vegetables grown there were “highly contaminated” and their consumption could cause cancer.
The tribunal had also held the pesticide-laden runaway water from the farms at the floodplains, thereby polluting the Yamuna. The NGT, however, had allowed floriculture and silviculture.