NEW DELHI: Majority of states have opposed constitution of River regulation Zone (RRZ) along rivers to regulate development activities and prevent encroachments along the rivers and floodplains.
The RRZ was proposed after the massive floods in Uttarakhand in 2013 that killed thousands and raised concerns over regulating development along river and floodplains.
Draft river regulation zone notification, proposing to declare river stretches and floodplain zones as river conservation zones, was circulated to states in January this year by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Two reminders have already gone to states to respond on the matter.
As of now only 10 states have responded and all of them have opposed the move. These states include Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Mizoram, Sikkim, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Pondicherry.
“All the comments received essentially opposed the proposed RRZ,” said a senior ministry official.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has also pulled up the ministry Monday for not filing the draft RRZ report sought in 2013. The draft calls for regulating all activities on river banks like various forms of encroachment on river beds and floodplains, particularly all permanent constructions, further channelization by levees, disposal of solid wastes, and landfills in floodplains.
It also looks into areas of uncontrolled extraction of sand, intensive grazing and excessive harvesting of vegetation, immersion of idols, disposal of dead bodies, and religious offerings in indiscriminate manner. Even mass bathing, wallowing of cattle and washing of clothes should be regulated.
States have been opposing the RRZ policy as according to them it will prohibit development in areas and have clearly said that it is not acceptable to them. But massive floods in Kashmir and Chennai in last two years have raised the issue of uncontrolled development and encroachment of floodplains in the country. The RRZ calls for prohibiting any such development in future.