New Delhi: A part of Yamuna floodplains in Delhi is now home to a cricket coaching centre. The Skillz Cricket Academy was started two months ago and it has now set up a permanent cricket pitch and a green net where children play on the floodplains near Delhi’s Mayur Phase 1 colony.

The Delhi stretch of Yamuna is highly polluted but the children do not care about the strong odour that emerges from the river while they practice. The ground is just the way they want it – flat.

The land belongs to Harsh Gautam, one of the people who started the academy. About  four to five children from nearby areas come to the academy for coaching, which is free. However, Gautam has not taken permission from any government authority for the academy. “It is just an informal set-up on our land. I have not taken any permission,” The Indian Express quoted Harsh as saying.

According to the Delhi Development Authority and the National Green Tribunal the land can only be used for farming. No permanent construction, dumping of debris or compaction is permitted in the area. According to The Indian Express report, DDA officials have denied any knowledge of cricket academy on Yamuna floodplains. Officials said that they will find out about the academy and check if it has violated any norms.

Yamuna floodplains have been in the news following the Art of Living festival held in March 2016. NGT had criticised Art of Living for degrading the flora and fauna of the floodplains by levelling the land. An NGT-appointed committee had noted that the rehabilitation of the floodplains would cost over Rs 42 crore and may take up to ten
years.