Covered with dense trees on all sides, the water body (johar) is adjacent to the famous Yog Maya temple, an integral part of the annual flower festival, Phool Waalon Ki Sair. Slamming the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for its failure in maintaining the water body, the HC has ordered a private party — the Yog Maya Mandir Welfare and Management Society — to maintain the johar.
After acquiring the ‘land’ in 1971, the government had put up fences to deny access to devotees, who earlier bathed in the water and lit lamps there. With no government department showing any concern, the johar soon became a pool of dirty water and some people started illegal pig farming in the area.
“We are very happy with the court’s order. When we filed a PIL in 2007, we had thought the DDA would do the initial cleaning of the johar and we would then take over its maintenance. Since the DDA has been falsely submitting that the water body was being maintained, we decided to take over the matter through the management of this temple,” said petitioner Rajesh Sharma, who is the general secretary of the temple society. In a recent order, Justice Sanjiv Khanna accepted the petition that said the pond was part of the age-old temple premises but was acquired by the DDA for its preservation.
The court rejected the DDA’s argument that the water body falls in the ridge area and cannot be given to a private party. It said: “There should not be any objection if the petitioner helps the DDA in maintaining the johar... some private parties have connected sewer lines to the water body. DDA is directed to take necessary action and remedial steps...”
The devotees and the society now want the DDA to first demarcate the johar area as per the revenue records and revive the water body. They also wish to develop the surroundings as a bio-diversity park. “The temple management will pool resources, but the maintenance may run into crores. We plan to approach the local politicians for funds,” said Sharma.
With the DDA and the MCD passing the buck on each other with regard to the maintenance of the water body, the court sought a status report from the DDA and fixed August 11 as the next date of hearing.