Who is to be blamed for high pollution level of river Yamuna? Delhi or Haryana. None of them, if the claims of both the state governments are to be believed.
Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh will now try to find an answer at a meeting with Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.
"We seem to be going round -and-round blaming each other," Ramesh said, after both the state governments blamed each other for the river’s pathetic condition and refused to act.
Yamuna in Delhi is almost dead with water not suitable for even bathing at most places, leave along supporting aquatic life. It is mainly due to high ammonia level emanating from high discharge of industrial pollutants in the river.
Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in December 2010 had to shut down its two major water treatment plants because of high ammonia content and blamed domestic effluents from Haryana townships neighbouring Delhi — Panipat, Samalkha and Sonepat — for it.
Ramesh was quick to act and asked Hooda to ensure monitoring of water quality in river Yamuna in Haryana and take action against polluters under section 5 of Environment Protection Act, which allows the state pollution control board to shut the industries.
Hooda wrote back saying that level of ammonia in Yamuna water at Palla, the entry point into Delhi, was nil as per joint monitoring report of Central and state Pollution Control Boards. The bio-chemical oxygen demand (BOD) level was 1.10 to 2.70 milligram per litre against the permissible limit of 3 milligram per litre.
"It is pertinent to mention that there is no discharge of effluents from the towns of Sonepat and Samalkha directly into the river Yamuna. The effluent from Panipat was being treated," said Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, Haryana environment minister, in a letter to the union environment minister.
"As a result the quality of water in Yamuna before entering Delhi remained within the permissible limits."
The deteriorating of the river starts in Delhi, the Haryana government has claimed. Quoting water quality figures between January and November 2010, the Haryana government said the BOD level at Badarpur, where it enters Haryana, ranged between 12 - 30 milligram per litre.
"Haryana is getting polluted water from the state of Delhi due to discharge of untreated/partially treated effluents from 22 drains falling into river Yamuna in Delhi," Yadav said, in a letter to Ramesh last week, seeking directions to Delhi government to control pollution in the river.
The Najafgarh drain receives large amount of untreated sewage and is a cause for pollution in Yamuna, thereby making it stink during dry season. Despite court orders the government had failed to rejuvenate the river.
Ramesh wants to take the task for cleaning river Yamuna by first resolving pending issues between the two states and then implementing a new plan for creating water reservoirs to provide sufficient fresh water supply in the river to support aquatic life.
Ministry officials expect a meeting between three of them soon.