Yamuna crisis: Minister’s tour reveals murky details




By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: As Kapil Mishra rode a boat on Wednesday morning to take stock of Yamuna, the city’s main source of water supply, dark grey water topped with foam lapped at the Delhi Water Minister’s boat, casting a fresh light on the deplorable condition of the country’s rivers.

Pledging his resolve to solve the Yamuna river crisis at the earliest, Mishra said, “The Yamuna river, which has now been reduced to a dark grey-coloured lifeless river, will be cleaned within the next three years.”

Apart from the minister, the boat ride included officials from various government departments; the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

An 8-km stretch between the Boat Club at Chandgi Ram Akhara and the Wazirabad Barrage, along the Signature Bridge to ITO was surveilled by the minister and his official coterie.

”The first river fact-finding survey” revealed high degree of pollution and low oxygen content (0.3 PPM–parts per million compared to standard of 4 PPM) which have transformed the river into a big ‘nullah‘ with no water life. Further, the wrenching smell emanating from the water makes one’s head swirl.

The water quality that was tested at numerous points by DJB engineers and chemists on multiple parameters uncovered multiple problems like river-basin degradation, ecological pollution, contaminant effect on ecosystem and ecology, solid and liquid waste pollution and encroachment on riverbed.

“We must remember that before we think of our river Yamuna becoming a Thames or Danube, we have to first clean it with commitment. Our team at DJB has also collected various samples and performed water quality tests, which I will personally monitor,” the minister said while outlining the challenges and measures to address the same.

“The oxygen level in the river has also gone way below what is required. We will make the river so clean that people will be able to bathe in it.

“We will make cleaning of the Yamuna a public movement. Thousands of crores were spent in the name of cleaning of Yamuna river in last 10-20 years but to no avail. There was earlier a lack of political will to clean the river,” the minister said.

To counter the proliferation of drains emptying sewage into the Yamuna, DJB officials stated that the 33 sewage treatment plants (STPs) existing in Delhi will now be increased by 15 new STPs in the next two years.

“We will have to set up 15 new STPs to treat the sewage water before it is discharged in the river. The project will be completed by 2017,” a DJB official said.

At present, 21 nullahs (drains) carrying 850 MGD (million gallons per day) of sewage empty out into the Yamuna every day.

Highlighting the urgency of solving the river crisis, Mishra said, “The Najafgarh drain, which is the biggest polluter, needs immediate cleaning and our team at DJB has started drafting a plan to clean this. By December 2016, we will clean this drain and only treated water from Najafgarh drain will be discharged into the river.”

However, the ambitious plan has been hanging fire for over a decade now.

The only saving grace that emerged during the inspection was the reduction in travel time across the 8 Km stretch.

Now, travelling to ITO from Civil lines is expected to take just 30 minutes through the uninterrupted cruise down the river, a luxury in a city choked with traffic.

(With inputs from IANS)