Who is to be blamed for high pollution level of river Yamuna? Delhi or Haryana. None of them, if claims of the respective state governments are to be believed.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh will now try to find an answer at a meeting with Haryana Chief Minister Bupinder 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 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 in December 2010 had to shut down its two major water treatment plants because of high ammonia content and blamed domestic affluents 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.
"It is pertinent to mention that there is no discharge of affluent from the towns of Sonepat and Samalkha directly into the river Yamuna. The affluent from Panipat was being treated," said Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, Haryana environment minister, in a letter to 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 figure for between January and November 2010, the Haryana government said the BOD level at Badarpur, where it enters Haryana ranged, between 12 to 30 milligram per litre.
"Haryana is getting polluted water from the state of Delhi due to discharge of untreated/partially treated affluents of 22 drains out 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 has 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 reserviours to provide sufficient fresh water supply in the river to support aquatic life.
Ministry officials expect a meeting between three of them soon.