NOIDA: The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday asked many government agencies, including local authorities in UP and Haryana, to explain the basis on which they have declared areas adjoining the Yamuna and Hindon rivers as ‘floodplains’.

The directions were issued by the principal bench of the tribunal headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar to dispel ambiguities among various government departments over the extent of areas adjoining rivers that should be demarcated as floodplains.

“We make it clear to all the official respondents that they shall take a clear stand as to the law under which the floodplain area has been declared, actual stand and whether construction of any kind is permitted/prohibited in the area identified/notified by them,” said the bench.

In the submissions made by different government agencies to the tribunal on Wednesday, there was no unanimity on the parameters that should be adopted to define the extent of land on either sides of a river as its floodplain region. The tribunal has also directed the authorities to state whether they have issued notifications, if any, declaring areas adjoining the two rivers as floodplains.

The bench issued the orders during the hearing of a case in which environmental activists have alleged that the land mafia has encroached upon large tracts of the Yamuna and Hindon riverbeds/floodplains in connivance with government officials.

Both Noida Authority and the GDA submitted to the tribunal on Wednesday that they have already issued notices of demolition to ‘unauthorised’ and ‘illegal’ constructions on the Yamuna and Hindon riverbeds. The authorities, however, informed that they have been receiving a continuous stream of objections against these notices and are at present conducting hearings on it.

Any further action towards ridding the floodplains of illegal constructions can be initiated only after these objections are disposed of.

While Noida Authority has issued 319 notices on the Yamuna riverbed, the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) has claimed that it has issued over 4,700 notices to owners of ‘unauthorized’ constructions on the Hindon riverbed.

In relation to this case, the tribunal had earlier directed the Noida Authority, the GDA and the Agra and Mathura Development Authorities, among other agencies, to take steps towards ridding the riverbeds of the Yamuna and the Hindon from all ‘illegal’ and ‘unauthorized’ constructions.