The excessive rainfall in this year’s monsoon will provide a possible answer to revive the Yamuna to its past glory, said a plan prepared by the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
The plan is simple: replenish the Yamuna flood plain in Delhi and it will ensure the river has water even during dry months. “At present, there is no water in the river during the lean season because of decline in the water table,” said a concept note prepared by NGRBA engineers.
The river is dry most of the year, because Yamuna’s flood plain in Delhi is a concrete jungle, where underground water is extracted for different purposes resulting in the river running dry.
In the years when the monsoon is bad, the authority has suggested that treated sewage water can be flown into these ponds.
Most of Yamuna’s water is because of underground contribution — a reason for its high flow during monsoon — as most of the glacier melt is abstracted at Haryana’s Hathnikund barrage, from which just 250 cusecs of water is released for ecological purpose. “Practically, there is no water in the river after Jagadhari (in Haryana),” the note said.
To tide over this problem, the new plan proposed to maintain underground water level higher than the riverbed. To make this happen, the NGRBA identified areas between Palla in Haryana, from where Yamuna enters Delhi, and Wazirabad, where there is a barrage on the river, to create artificial ponds to store excess water that flows into the river during monsoon.
“These ponds will sustain the underground water table to ensure Yamuna is a perennial river,” said environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who will discuss the concept note with Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit this week, where it is likely to be approved. “The concept note assumes special importance in view of the fact that Yamuna finally is full in the Delhi stretch after 30 years.”
According to the data available with the Central Ground Water Board, Delhi allows 280 million cubic meters of water, half of its monsoon runoff, to flow out of the city as waste. If a portion of this water is stored in artificially created surface and sub-surface reservoirs for utilisation during non-monsoon period, many of the Yamuna’s water problems can be solved, the note said.
The authority identified more than 100 sq km of area between Palla and Wazirabad for the artificial ponds and has also asked to revive 35 waterbodies.