Akshardham is first culprit in Yamuna bed violation: Ramesh

Ramesh

The Akshardham Temple, built on banks of Yamuna River here, lacks environmental clearance, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Friday but conceded that nothing could be done about it now.

"Akshardham didn't get the clearance. Akshardham didn't apply for the environmental clearance," Ramesh told reporters here about the grand temple of Swaminarayan sect spread over 30-acre plot of land.

Asked whether Akshardham Temple was constructed by violating the environmental norms, he said, "It has already happened. What is yet to happen, we can stop that."

Pressed further, he said, "We can't demolish the Akshardham Complex. We have to protect the remaining river bed."

The temple, which was built over five years before being inaugurated on November 6, 2005, had courted controversies earlier also over environmental concerns.

Noting that he was seriously considering the concept of the River Regulation Zone notification, Ramesh said, "The manner in which the Yamuna river belt has been devastated by construction should be a wake up call to all of us."

"River belts...whether it is Akshardham Temple, which was the first culprit, then we had a series of other constructions. River belts have to be protected," he said.

Ramesh was also asked whether the Commonwealth Games village, built adjacent to Akshardham, also lacked green nod.

"Yes, it got the clearance. There was a village... I don't want to get into past, the clearance was given," he said.

Ramesh said the environmental clearance given to the Commonwealth Games village was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Emphasising the need of a River Regulation Zone (RRZ) notification to protect the rapidly vanishing river beds, the Minister said, "We are working on this concept and I hope within a next few months, we will be able to have an RRZ notification."

"Civil society organisations have given me the idea of RRZ like Coastal Regulation Zone notification," Ramesh added.

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