Manoj Misra, relentless crusader against pollution in the Yamuna River, dies at 68

For many, Misra (68) was the patient point of contact for questions about water issues in general and specifically, those on the Yamuna and the stretch of the river that flows through Delhi.

Misra was in Bhopal at the time of his disappearance. He leaves behind his wife and daughter.

What Misra knew about the river has been painstakingly compiled over decades of work on the ground and with others associated with similar problems, according to his friends and longtime collaborators.

Manu Bhatnagar, chief director of natural heritage division at INTACH, pointed to Misras’ voice against constructions in floodplains, including Akshardham and structures that emerged before the Commonwealth Games, including a bus depot: Yamuna al National Green Tribunal (NGT), which brought positive orders for the river. It was also a key part of India Rivers Week This year was planning the 10th conference.

Bhim Singh Rawat, conservationist and associate coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, said: “When he started to understand the Yamuna, around 2005, there was very little talk about floodplains being flooded. looking at the river as a whole he traveled its length and met people, noting that the river had become seasonal from perennial and stressed the importance of keeping its flow.

Misra was the coordinator of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, which was formed in 2007 as a group of environmental organizations working for the Yamuna. He exposed me to terrestrial realities and different elements that need to be considered when it comes to river health, such as catchment area, flow and tributaries. This is a huge loss to the community, Rawat said.

Bhavreen Kandhari, an environmental activist based in Delhi, said: As a forest ranger, he had so much experience and when he saw something, he would point it out.

Attorney Rahul Choudhary, Misra’s attorney on several cases, including the petition before the NGT over the drain cover, said, “Over the years, he has guided us on the issues of the Yamuna and its floodplains as well as on other cases related to the river. To date, there is no good floodplain protection law, we still rely on the rulings on your floodplain protection petitions.

Environmentalist Rajendra Singh said: From 2006 to 2008, we worked together when we held the Yamuna bachao satyagraha. He knew the river and was a good manager during the andolan.

Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal and LG VK Saxena sent messages of condolence following the news of his passing.

It is sad to hear this terrible news. I worked with him on several issues long before I entered politics. He was great. He has done so much work for the Delhi environment, Kejriwal tweeted.

Saxena tweeted: Shocked and saddened by the untimely passing of Shri Manoj Misra ji. He remained a warrior for the cause of the environment and a son of the river Yamuna, constantly fighting for his awakening. His disappearance leaves us bereft of a precious travel companion on the road to Yamuna’s rejuvenation.

Water Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj tweeted that Misra has been a guiding force for many governments and organizations for decades, including the Delhi government.

Significant petitions

In an order on Misras’ petition, the NGT had directed the Delhi Development Authority to cordon off the floodplains and ban construction on them.

A core committee was also formed on NGT orders to monitor the river cleanup and rejuvenation project. Committee approval is required for proposed floodplain projects. The NGT also led the implementation of the Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Project, 2017.

Misra had also filed a petition before the NGT on the damages caused to the floodplains by the Art of Living Foundation for its World Culture Festival in 2016. The court then imposed an environmental compensation amount of Rs 5 crore on the foundation.

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