The fact that the Yamuna is over-taxed, channelised, badly polluted and without continuous flow for nine months of the year is common knowledge.
So much so that the collective memory of the river in a better state is fading rapidly.
Now a study done by a scholar from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, has said the Yamuna Action Plan is incapable of restoring or protecting the river and its basin.
Linda Ciesielski (30), an architect who did her three-month research with the PEACE Institute Charitable Trust in Delhi, sponsored by MIT (MISTI-India Program) has said in her 71-page report,
“The current system is wrought by lack of accountability, enforcement of rule of law, and corruption.”
In the past 18 years, over R 4,439 crore has been spent by government bodies of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana under the YAP, but to no avail. Now the Supreme Court has asked these states to explain the same and submit reports.
In her research, Linda has quoted various media reports, including the one published by Hindustan Times on March 11, 2012, under the headline “Make a drain of a river, throw crores down it”.
Her report titled, “The Yamuna river basin: an alternative action plan” calls for a four-pronged action plan - restore flow to the river, keep waste out of waterways, protect the integrity of the basin and create a new vision for the river.
According to the new study, “A natural flow regime is an essential indicator of biodiversity and ecological health of a river system.” “The lack of dedicated flow for the river has undermined the ecosystem, human health and welfare, economic livelihood and cultural and religious rites. A restoration of flow to the river would reap measurable and widespread ecological dividends,” it reads.
“Current attempts to centralise waste management through sewage treatment plants and sewerage infrastructure face fundamental obstacles, which prohibit their effectiveness. Alternative strategies are required,” it further reads.
“Solutions to restore and preserve the river system require a revision of current policies and jurisdictional mandates; the integration of non-structural solutions, focussed on coordinated land use planning and river protection; and emphasis on education, incentives, and public involvement to realize change,” the study adds.