The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has confirmed. Eighteen years and R1,500 crore later, the polluted stretch in the Yamuna river has increased to 600 km.
Till recently, this additional stretch of 100 km — between Panipat in Haryana and Wazirabad upstream — was believed to be clean and pollution-free. Till 2010, the CPCB’s data had showed that Yamuna’s polluted stretch was about 500 km - from downstream Wazirabad to Okhla in Delhi, and from Majawali (downstream of Delhi) to Juhika in Uttar Pradesh.
The data has been drawn from CPCB’s affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in the famous AQFM Yamuna case in April this year.
“A river is a living eco-system and not a channel for treated sewage. The whole of Yamuna should have original source water,” said Dr DD Basu, CPCB’s senior scientist.
Crores of rupees have already been spent as part of Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) I & II. Now, under the YAP III, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which releases partially treated and untreated sewage into the Yamuna, has planned interceptor sewers to prevent untreated sewage from entering the river.
DJB officials, however, claim that getting fresh water is easier said than done.
“An inter-state agreement regulates the water share of each riparian state. So, getting an increased share is not easy. However, we are in talks with the government of Haryana,” said a senior DJB official.
“Yamuna water is not recycled. Moreover, the sewage treatment plants (STPs) do not function properly,” said Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
“Instead of giving fresh water to industries, why can’t DJB divert treated sewage from STPs to them? This can also be a possible solution to meet the increasing demand for drinking water,” he said.
After the Rs 1,000 crore spent under YAP I & II, another R1,600 crore has been earmarked for YAP III as part of the grants received from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Rs 1,400 crore will also to be pumped through Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).