Yamuna pollution: Haryana told to expedite work on sewage plants
New Delhi:The NGT-appointed Yamuna Monitoring Committee has told the Haryana government to “expedite” its pending projects related to the construction and upgrade of effluent and sewage treatment plants as untreated or partially treated industrial effluents and domestic sewage are flowing into the Yamuna and adding to its pollution.
The Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC), in a review meeting of the Yamuna Action Plan held via video conferencing last week, told senior Haryana officials to “compress the timelines of the said projects” and find alternative ways to reduce the toxic discharge from entering the Yamuna.
“Though substantial progress had been made in decision making connected with the construction of STPs/CETPs, the timelines of awarding of work and construction need to be compressed. Temporary alternatives be found to make a substantial difference to the huge pollution entering the river Yamuna,” the YMC stated in the minutes of the meeting drafted on September 10.
The two-member YMC comprises former Delhi chief secretary Shailaja Chandra and former NGT expert member BS Sajwan.
The committee said of the 14 existing CETPs, 11 are either not functioning because of design fault or are not functioning to capacity and need to be upgraded.
“Presently, 521 MLD (million litres per day) untreated effluent is being discharged into the Yamuna from different towns of Haryana. This is huge and there has been no reduction over the last two years,” it said.
During the Covid lockdown, there was no discharge as industries were shut, which was one of the major reasons for a cleaner Yamuna during that time.
Now with the gradual opening of industries in Haryana, the drains are again carrying high levels of untreated effluents that finally go into the river, adding to its pollution load.
The Yamuna flows for 54 km in Delhi between Palla in north and Badarpur in south, of which the 22-km stretch downstream of the Wazirabad barrage to Okhla barrage is the most polluted.
The committee said work on 30 new STPs in several towns has been much delayed. Major cities like Faridabad do not have functional STPs. Besides, the laying of sewerage network in major cities has been delayed by almost a year and hence untreated sewage is being discharged into the drains.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Haryana Yamuna Monitoring Committee (HYMC) reports showed BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) and COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) levels continue to remain high and way above permissible limits in major Haryana drains.
BOD is the amount of oxygen used by microorganisms in the oxidation of organic matter. COD refers to the total amount of organic and inorganic chemicals in waste water. High levels of BOD and COD in waste water indicate untreated sewage and effluents.
The YMC said the increasing pollution load in the Yamuna is caused by mixing of discharge from Haryana’s drain no.6 and a channel carrying effluents from the Kundli CETP into drain no. 8 at Sonepat. “This mixing of discharge is affecting the water treatment plant in Delhi’s Wazirabad, because of which potable drinking water is polluted and the plant needs to be shut down at times,” the committee said.
S Naryanan, member secretary, Haryana State Pollution Control Board, said some projects had been delayed because of Covid and financial constraints. “Most work regarding the construction of STPs and CETPs are in the pipeline and will be completed soon. Some alternative measures such as bio-remediation are being experimented in Gurugram and based on the results, will be extended to other cities. We will submit a status report to the state government on the projects this week,” said Naryanan.
PKMK Das, member, Haryana Yamuna Monitoring Committee, said nine new CETPs are being constructed in towns such as Panipat, Sonepat and Kundli. “The new CETPs will help in better treatment of effluents while the existing ones are being upgraded both in terms of design and capacity. A proposal to construct two conduit carriages has been approved to fix the mixing of discharge in drains that are affecting the Wazirabad plant in Delhi,” Das said.
Manoj Misra, convenor of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said discharge of untreated industrial effluents from Haryana is a major contributor to pollution in the Yamuna. “Haryana, which is upstream of Delhi, covers the city from three sides (North, West and South) and hence effluents from its drains, for instance, drain no. 2 in Panipat, flow directly into the Yamuna. The government needs to bring in stringent measures to curb untreated discharge,” said Misra.