Pollution watchdog suggests Kumbh example to clean up Yamuna water

Updated on Mar 27, 2019 08:30 AM IST

Even though only 2% of the Yamuna flows through Delhi between Wazirabad and Okhla, the city contributes nearly 76% of the total pollution load in the river.

Thousands of pilgrims take a ritualistic dip at the Sangam, during the Kumbh.(AP File Photo)
Thousands of pilgrims take a ritualistic dip at the Sangam, during the Kumbh.(AP File Photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

To clean up the Yamuna river, the central pollution control board (CPCB) suggested a model similar to the one used to maintain the river water quality during the Kumbh mela in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj.

The minutes of the meeting between the CPCB and the National Green Tribunal (NGT)-appointed Yamuna pollution monitoring committee in February read, “ ...SPS Parihar informed about the measures taken by the UP government for river water quality management during Prayagraj Kumbh Festival. He observed that the arrangements are of high quality due to the direct supervision by the highest authorities of the state government and districts. He suggested that a similar mechanism be established for Yamuna.”

While Parihar, chairman of the CPCB, was not available for response, senior officials of the pollution watchdog also refused a comment. HT has a copy of the minutes of the meeting held last month.

Even though only 2% of the Yamuna flows through Delhi between Wazirabad and Okhla, the city contributes nearly 76% of the total pollution load in the river. “There is an institutional mechanism of committee headed by the chief secretary at the state level and district magistrate at the district level to monitor industrial and domestic waste water into the river Ganga besides periodic monitoring of water quality in the river and drains falling into the river,” stated the minutes of the meeting quoting Parihar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had congratulated Uttar Pradesh for the “exceptional” organising of Kumbh 2019, which ended on March 4. More than 24 crore devotees took bath this time at the Kumbh.

A series of other steps were also taken to control pollution during the 49-day festival. In the run up to the festival, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned all development and commercial activities near the Ganga between Bijnore and Unnao-Kanpur region in UP. Earlier, Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had issued orders to close down leather and tannery units in Kanpur between December 15 and March 15 to ensure that effluents were not discharged in to the river.

“The water quality at Prayagraj improved because of the improved flow and not just because of monitoring. The authorities ensured that at least 6,000 – 7,000 cusecs of water flow down the river. If we can improve the flow of water in the Yamuna pollution would automatically drop,” said Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.

The monitoring committee led by Shailaja Chandra and BS Sajwan also expressed concern over the river water pollution caused by industries in Ghaziabad, Shahibabad and Noida in UP and the flow of sewage and industrial effluents from cities of Haryana such as Sonepat, Panipat, Yamuna Nagar, Kundli and Karnal among others. It asked the CPCB to take ‘forceful’ actions.

“Rather the merely submitting reports to the monitoring committee, the CPCB needs to take forceful measures including the imposition of Environmental Compensation under the Polluter Pays Principle and order the closure of specific polluting units to bring others in line,” the committee noted in the minutes of the meeting.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Joydeep Thakur is a Special Correspondent based in Kolkata. He focuses on science, environment, wildlife, agriculture and other related issues.

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