Redeeming the Yamuna

Published: Tuesday, Oct 22,2013, 19:36 IST
Redeeming the Yamuna, vijay goel.

Yamuna is the lifeline of Delhi but the fact of the matter is that it is now an almost dead river. Broadly, two factors are responsible for it:

  • More than 95% water is taken away within a few kilometers from Yamunotri glacier and there isn’t a single drop of fresh water in Yamuna in Delhi.
  • A large combination of sewage from domestic and industrial purposes then enters the river. The extent of this pollution is too huge to describe in this short essay so you are encouraged to read this report prepared by the BJP Delhi president Vijay Goel (page 7) to get a proper idea about the kind and volume of pollution that is entering the Yamuna.

So in short, first, we are not even getting any fresh water in Delhi and whatever we are getting is getting polluted. To get an idea of the extent to which Yamuna is getting polluted, the presence of disease causing micro-organisms, is nearly 25,000 times more than the limit prescribed for bathing. Total money spent by various governments, so far on Yamuna is more than Rs 4000 crore all of which has literally gone down the drain (called Yamuna).


So is there any hope left for the Delhiites? Several steps have been proposed which can definitely improve the situation of Yamuna. Apart from cleaning up of the river, a viable solution must aim towards replenishing fresh water in the river and reducing the amount of pollutants entering the river. In this regard, the following steps, if taken, can definitely improve the situation of Yamuna:

  • More water needs to be released from the point where 97% of it is taken away and then used in a highly inefficient manner. This is located at Hathni Kund (located at Yamuna Nagar in Haryana).
  • Connecting unauthorized colonies to the underground drainage system: Today, we have enough sewage treatment plants but not enough waste is reaching these plants. This is mainly due to the unauthorized colonies of Delhi which are not connected to the underground drainage system.  Currently the untreated waste is getting mixed up with the treated waste which is making the situation for Yamuna worse.Improving the efficiency of existing treatment plants is also a step that needs to be taken immediately. Accountable governance is going to be required for that.
  • Encouragement to Rain Water Harvesting should be given so that our dependence on Yamuna for fresh water can be reduced. 
  • Repurposing of Wastewater: The water that has been treated should be repurposed or reused for irrigation purposes. In this regard, we can have a system where 2 separate lines of water can be provided: One for domestic use and other for agriculture.
  • Development of Yamuna Bank can be done ala Sabarmati river bank. Lessons can be learned from the way Gujarat has managed to infuse a new life in the Sabarmati river by developing the Sabarmati river front.
  • Involvement of the people: The government should take the citizen’s help as well as educate the masses about the importance of river Yamuna. With the correct intent, funds can be generated from the people as well. If an IAS officer like Armstrong Pame can build a 100km road using funds from facebook, surely a government should be able to ask the citizens for help. And this, my friends can be a great opportunity to even improve the Delhi society where compassion for fellow humans has been on the wane for some time. 

And as for the cleanup of Yamuna,  I once attended a BJP meet up where Vijay Goel was one of the speakers. This meeting was held a few weeks after he had released that report.  Among the various issues discussed was the issue of Yamuna river clean up. A member in the audience asked Goel “Where the Delhi government had failed to clean up the Yamuna for the past 15 years, how will you clean it up?”  

To this, Goel’s reply was simple “Just like the metro coaches were imported from  Japan, we can involve private parties to do this clean up work on Yamuna as well. The complete clean up work can in fact be done on a budget of Rs 1400 crore. ”  

The solutions to our problems are simpler than we think. Only the right intent is required.

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