Wednesday October 23, 2019
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Death of a river: How general apathy has killed Yamuna

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yamuna-pollution

By Shilpika Srivastava

National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Delhi government, Delhi Jal Board, every municipal corporation, electricity companies and all other civic authorities to collect environment compensation from every household for spawning sewage waste in Delhi, on a Polluters Pay Principle.

The green panel’s announcement has again made the entire issue of Yamuna’s pollution a hot potato.

Who and What of NGT

The National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and prompt disposal of cases relating to environmental protection, conservation of forests and other natural resources. A specialized body outfitted with the necessary expertise, NGT handles environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.

Just a few days back, the tribunal had put a ban on disposing all kinds of waste into the Hindon canal, and termed its pollution as a ‘serious concern’. The order was issued following a petition filed by a Vasundhara Enclave resident in Delhi, who complained of municipal waste, construction waste and building trash being dumped into the canal resulting in huge water and air pollution.

Last month, NGT imposed a fine of Rs. 5,000 on openly burning waste such as garbage, leaves, plastics and crop residues.

There were many more steps taken by the tribunal to curb almost every kind of pollution, like a ban on diesel vehicles in Delhi, halt on construction activity in Noida, prohibition of plastic usage and so on. Strong measures taken by NGT have not only made it an environmental champion, but also exposed how the government has not been effective at addressing environmental concerns.

Where is Goddess Yamuna?

Every time one passes by Yamuna bridge, Goddess Yamuna is absent, but a blanket of froth, tons of flower garlands, bodies of animals, black poisonous industrial waste floating shamelessly over the river bed is visible.

Where is the scent of fresh water? Where is Yamuna’s sweet taste that the folklores of India mention?

Hitherto, India has followed a somewhat straightforward approach to clean up its rivers. It has acted on the conjecture that preventing pollution is enough to restore the river. In keeping with this approach, India has set up effluent and sewage treatment plants, which clean up waste water before it is released into the rivers. The outcome of the crores of funds spent show how this approach has failed miserably.

Indians, who bow their heads and ask for a wish when passing by a river, are the least aware or interested ones when it comes to preserving the very same rivers. Their ‘chalta hai’( casual) attitude or ‘we have it on our Shahstras (Holy books)’ are undoubtedly taking a toll on the environment.

Death of a river

Facts suggest that, as Yamuna passes through Delhi over a 48-km stretch, it is welcomed by garlands of chemical waste and toxins. A few months back, the Central Water Commission (CWC) declared that Yamuna, as it flows through Agra, is given an added burden of almost 50 times more Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) than the permissible limit. The commission also warned that water in the river, which is now polluted beyond repair, is also contaminating ground water.

Reportedly, the Okhla barrage, 22 km downstream of Wazirabad barrage, is considered the most polluted segment of River Yamuna.

Yamuna, which has an annual flow of about 10,000 cubic metres and usage of 4,400 cubic metres, accounts for more than 70% of Delhi’s water supplies. The national capital discards almost 60% of its waste into the river. The industrial effluents have worsened the problems making Yamuna a black and stinky drain.

No doubt, numerous steps were taking by the government, various NGOs and environmentalist, but all in vain. As long as the people are not involved in the process, Yamuna cannot be preserved. Neither government’s measures nor NGT imposing environment compensation on the residents can save the sacred river.

  • Absolutely right. You have concluded it right that its in our hand to save our sacred rivers.

Next Story

Yamuna Flowing Above Danger Mark in Delhi

The water level was rising due to rain in northern India and discharge of water from the Hathnikund Barrage in Haryana

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Yamuna
The water discharged from the barrage, which provides drinking water to Delhi, normally takes 72 hours to reach the capital, the official said. Pixabay

The Yamuna continued to flow above the danger mark at 206.44 metres at 6 p.m. on Wednesday but with the water level not rising any more. The river breached the danger mark of 205.33m on Monday night, and the authorities were expecting the level to go up to 207m by Wednesday.

However, the waters showed a receding trend since the wee hours of Wednesday, a Flood Control Department official told IANS.

“The water level, which was steady at 206.60 metres started showing a receding trend since afternoon. Although water is reducing, the situation is critical and we are keeping a close watch on it,” the official said.

The water level was rising due to rain in northern India and discharge of water from the Hathnikund Barrage in Haryana.

“Water is being released from the barrage since Saturday,” the official said, adding that Haryana released 8.28 lakh cusecs of water on Sunday evening. The water discharged from the barrage, which provides drinking water to Delhi, normally takes 72 hours to reach the capital, the official said.

Yamuna
The water level was rising due to rain in northern India and discharge of water from the Hathnikund Barrage in Haryana. Pixabay

Thousands of people living along the banks of the river were moved to safer places. They have been asked to stay in the tents until the water level comes down to normal. Rail and vehicular traffic on the Old Yamuna Bridge was suspended as the water level rose. Delhi witnessed the worst floods in 1978 when the river’s level touched a record 207.49m.

Also Read: Global E-commerce Giant Amazon Opened Its Largest Campus in Hyderabad

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot inspected a relief camp at Usmanpur on Wednesday on the east bank of the Yamuna. Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari, who is also a Lok Sabha MP from the city, visited the flood-affected areas of Kisan Basti, Usmanpur and Gadhi Mandu. (IANS)