Despite the Supreme Court’s intervention and attempt to clean the Yamuna in Delhi, the level of pollution in the river remains toxic with the water not even fit for bathing.
According to a recent survey report submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) before the top court, on most months, the river Yamuna is clogged with additives such as pesticides, garbage, grease and effluents.
The report, submitted by advocate Vijay Panjwani, said that after testing water at various points in the river, the Agra canal and drains in the Delhi segment, it was found that on most months the river had exceeded the amount of bio-chemical oxygen demand than is recommended to make the water fit for drinking and bathing.
Bio-oxygen demand (BOD) is the parameter that estimates the amount of biological and chemical components in the water in comparison to the amount of oxygen it would take to break the pollutants down.
In Yamuna, the BOD ranges between 32 miligrams per litre at Nizamuddin to 29 mgl in Okhla. The recommended criterion for drinking water is 2mgl and bathing is 3 mgl.
The SC has been monitoring cleaning of the Yamuna since 1994 after it took cognizance of a report in HT on the rising pollutions level in the river. Over `1,600 crore has been spent by successive governments to clean the river. Projects worth `6,000 crore are in the offing to achieve the task.
The pollution spikes during the festival months of September and October. The CPCB said the 22 drains meant to carry stormwater into the river, however, carry treated and untreated sewage and industrial effluent.
“The total pollution load, discharged through 22 drains in river Yamuna in canals, observed during the 12 rounds of monitoring from November 2013 to October 2014 varied between 145 tonnes per day and 317 tonnes per day,” the report said. Analysis showed that nature of pollution in the drains was mainly due to bio-degradable waste.
Spike in industrial pollutants in the river forced the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) this week to cut production at the Wazirabad and Chandrawal water treatment plants by 50 per cent. This has led to water scarcity in Delhi. Untreated industrial waste was released into the river through the Panipat drain in Haryana, increasing the pollution levels, DJB officials said.
“There is no Yamuna water here, this is all sewage. It is almost futile to even test this water. I think most Delhites have become callous to this kind of information, so it does not surprise us,” said Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.