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Yamuna Continues to Remain Dry Even After Heavy Rain; Threatens Mughal Monuments

The NGT in September 2018 had asked it to work on river cleaning programmes for 12 river basins

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yamuna, mughal monuments
In Agra city alone, there are 90 drains opening into Yamuna. Pixabay

Even after a fortnight of monsoon rains, river Yamuna in Agra continues to remain dry, with heaps of polluted garbage providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and bacteria. This time of the year, the river is usually in spate, recalls old timer Ganno Pandey. But “so far we see no water flowing down. Only the drains are bringing in lots of pollutants and polythenes,” Pandey adds.

The Taj Mahal and other historical monuments along Yamuna’s banks are now feeling the heat. Already green patches on the surface have appeared at the rear side of the Taj Mahal. Experts have said these are excreta of mosquitoes breeding in the polluted waters of the river.

Just before the April 18 polling in Agra, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah had categorically assured that the first task of the elected government would be cleaning of Yamuna and a barrage to hold back water behind the Taj Mahal.

Earlier, Nitin Gadkiri, the Union Minister for transport, has on umpteen occasions promised steamers would ferry tourists from Delhi to Agra. So far, one does not see any ground action. The CPCB has meanwhile decided to set up a unit in Agra to study pollution in Yamuna. The NGT in September 2018 had asked it to work on river cleaning programmes for 12 river basins.

yamuna, mughal monuments
The NGT in September 2018 had asked it to work on river cleaning programmes for 12 river basins. Pixabay

The projects should include sewage management plan, industrial effluent management plan, solid waste and flood plain management plan and ecological flow and ground water management plan.

“Is there any scope for more studies when countless studies done already have proved Yamuna water is unfit for humans and animals. What is flowing down in Yamuna is waste, untreated water, sewer, industrial effluents, highly toxic and full of pollutants, from upstream cities including Delhi,” commented environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya.

In Agra city alone, there are 90 drains opening into Yamuna. The municipal corporation claims it has tapped some 40. “But a close investigation proves the claim hollow. The bigger ones, Bhairon, Mantola, Balkeshwar ‘naalas’ continue to discharge huge quantities of untreated waste water without any check,” says green activist Shravan Kumar Singh.

The Yamuna river bed between Etmauddaula and the Taj Mahal has become a dumping ground for pollutants. Polythene, plastic waste, leather cuttings from shoe factories, construction material, are all thrown into the river.

Once the festival season starts, PoP idol immersion will further worsen the eco-conditions. People are being advised to avoid using PoP idols, and go for simple conventional ‘mitti ki murti’,” said Lok Swar president Rajiv Gupta.

yamuna, mughal monuments
The Taj Mahal and other historical monuments along Yamuna’s banks are now feeling the heat. Pixabay

The city is lucky to have escaped a major drinking water crisis as the Gangajal pipeline from Bulandhshahar district became operational just in time during peak summer.

“Right now, half the city’s needs are being met by the Sikandra Water Works which gets Gangajal through a 135km long pipeline. Half the water is going waste as the old Water Works at Jeoni Mandi is yet to be connected with the pipeline. We are getting 375 MLD from the Gangajal pipeline,” an official explained.

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While the Gangajal pipeline may have solved the drinking water problem for the time being, the bigger question about dredging, desilting and cleaning of the river Yamuna considered vital for the historical monuments, remains unanswered.

“From 1990, politicians of all parties have been talking of a barrage on Yamuna downstream of the Taj Mahal. Twice, the foundation stones have been laid. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself has announced the barrage project in Agra would start soon. But so far there is only talk, more talk and assurances. Why they are dragging their feet on this important project, no explanation is coming forth,” Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society said. (IANS)

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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.

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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)