Is Yamuna Dying? – A Feature on Pollution

Is Yamuna Dying? – A Feature on Pollution


Yamuna – one of the most sacred rivers in India after Ganga is said to be the daughter of Surya – The Sun God and the sister of Yama – The God of death. According to legends it is believed by the Hindus that those who take a dip in its holy waters are not tormented by fears of death.
But this once mighty river has been reduced to the most polluted and largest sewer drain once it enters Delhi. It is shocking to know that the river in its long journey of 2525 Kms from its origin in Yamunotri in the Garhwal hills to its confluence with the Ganga at Allahabad in U.P. gets polluted in the stretch of a mere 22 Kms through Delhi and by the time it reaches Mathura is completely polluted.
The main causes of pollution have been identified as below :-

  1. Untreated sewage discharge from the 18 drains in the National Capital, of which 5 drains – Najafgarh, Shahdara, Sarita Vihar bridge, Sen Nursing home and Powerhouse contribute 83% of total untreated sewage which is discharged into the river.
  2. 143 unauthorised   colonies and 1080 slums along the river bank who use the river not only as a source for their drinking water but also for washing, bathing and defecating.
  3. Discharge of chemicals and industrial effluents  by Industries in Haryana before the river enters the National Capital.
Steps taken by the Delhi State Govt to clean up the Yamuna

Under the Yamuna Action Plans ( YAP 1(1993)  and YAP 2(2003), the Delhi State Government has  already spent Rs.1306 crores and allocated Rs.1656 crores  for YAP – 3 in 2011 in various pollution abatement works like creation of sewage treatment plants, rehabilitation of sewerage networks and modernisation of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and construction of new  state of art  plants. Yet the river Yamuna continues to be more polluted than before, and the crores of rupees spent by the Delhi Government has virtually gone down the drain.

Initiatives taken by NGO’s, Corporates, Media houses, and Central Govt

On 17th March 2010, under the MY DELHI MY YAMUNA project launched by Sri Sri  Ravishankar, Founder of Art of Living and supported by UNESCO, Ability Unlimited, Delhi Jal Board, Ministry of Forests And Environment, Max Healthcare, Philips, Times of India, Star News, State Bank of India, Bajaj Alliance and PVR Cinemas cleaned up the river’s ghats in the National Capital, the volunteers working round the clock for eight days did a commendable job of cleaning up the ghats, but within months the river was as polluted as before.

The latest status of the Yamuna river

The Supreme Court of India’s directives
The Supreme Court has asked the State Government  “ What fruitful purpose has been achieved by spending of thousands of crores of Rupees when Yamuna river continues to be dirty “ Further it has issued following directives for cleaning up of the Yamuna.

  1. Sewage should be diverted away from the river Yamuna and be treated.
  2. The States through which the river flows should maintain a constant and adequate flow of natural fresh flow in river Yamuna through out to protect and preserve the river’s ecology.

Earlier the Supreme Court had come down heavily on the Delhi State Government for not removing the unauthorised colonies on the banks of the river Yamuna flowing through Delhi for which it has yet to respond .
Is there any permanent solution to this problem or will the State and Central Governments continue to pour money down the drain in building more and more STPs and  cosmetic cleaning up of the river.
LSW is of the view that the State Governments and the Central Government, specially the Governments of Haryana, Delhi and  U.P. should take serious note of the Supreme Court’s directives and help in finding a permanent solution before it is too late and one of our most sacred rivers  becomes the largest Sewage drain in the World.
As most of the Industries releasing industrial effluents into the Yamuna are in Haryana, the Haryana Government should take immediate steps to stop these Industries  from releasing untreated effluents into the river.
The Delhi State Government  could begin by following the Supreme Court directive  by firstly removing and  relocating the unauthorised colonies and slums from the banks of the river or  authorising the colonies and slums  and provide them the basic facilities like drinking water, proper sanitation etc.; so that they do not pollute the river. Secondly, the sewage from the 18 drains flowing into Yamuna should be diverted into STPs before releasing into the river. Lastly there should be policing of the ghats to prevent people from littering and throwing plastic waste into the river.
Likewise , The U.P. Government should  take steps to stop the Industries  in the vicinity of Mathura from polluting the river, relocating the unauthorised settlements along the banks of the Yamuna  and policing of the ghats to prevent pollution of the river.
Lastly , it is not only the responsibility of the Government to clean up the Yamuna but also the responsibility of all citizens of India to not pollute the river by littering and throwing plastic waste into the river and endangering the ecology of the river.

SGB Rao-LifeScienceWorld

  1. Should Delhi allow free flow of water in the river Yamuna and look for other sources of water supply for Delhi – like water supply from the upper reaches of river Ganga through pipe lines and compulsory Rain Water Harvesting ?
  2. Should all Industries continuing to discharge industrial chemicals and effluents into the river Yamuna be shut down immediately ?
  3. Will policing of the river’s  ghats prevent people from littering the river bank and throwing plastic waste into the river ?

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