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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yamuna Today And Yesterday

Yamuna today is what Thames was 150 yrs ago

From MSN India

Malvika Baru Sharma | New Delhi

The river Yamuna, having been declared dead with its water all poisonous from 22 drains from all over Delhi feeding 800 million gallons of sewage into it per day, can kill a healthy human being. It's the rapid industrialisation that is helping the inevitable pollute to the river, pointed out Robert Oates, Director, Thames Rivers Restoration Trust (TRRT, and the industrial revolution of India is 10 times that of England when it took place.

"It is not just Government's but every citizen of Delhi's responsibility to make sure that the river's cleanliness is restored and its purity revived," he said. The Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP), Toxics Link and Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (YJA) organised a lecture by Robert Oates of TRRT in the Capital on Tuesday.

In a presentation, the TRRT detailed how the whole Thames river restoration project was undertaken. TRRT is an independent charity in the UK dedicated to improving the Thames river in London and its tributaries to benefit people and nature and it has done some pioneering work in recent years. Robert explained that what all difficulties TRRT had to face 150 years back will not be faced by Delhi's governance with all its knowledge and technical advances like GIS at their behest. "It might not take as long as 50 years for the whole restoration project of Yamuna. It might take even less than 15 years if all goes to plan," he said.

Yamuna today is what London's Thames was 150 years ago, with all its water polluted almost irrevocably. It seemed impossible to restore it to its natural state, but it was good governance that brought life back to the river. Oates was there to share all the experiences of his to revive the Thames and if there were any lessons for the efforts to help revive the river Yamuna in Delhi. SK Mishra, Chairman, INTACH, Ramaswamy Iyer and Manoj Mishra of YJA pointed out along with Oates the right measures that should be undertaken to improve the health of Yamuna. The drains dumping the sewage and the encumbered water flow are the two major causes that impede the river.

"There are just 17 sewage treatment plants which are not functioning to their designed capacity, to serve the drains feeding 1,200 km of the Yamuna... Instead, the Government is investing 1,500 crore rupees on an interception treatment plant which is not even capable of treating the sewage," said the presentation.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday said Yamuna river cannot be cleaned before the Commonwealth Games that are scheduled to take place Oct 3-14 in the national Capital. “Yamuna can’t be cleaned in a time of just few months. It will take time. We never promised to clean it before the Commonwealth Games,” Dikshit said. “We are making efforts to clean it. We are making interceptors to stop sewage flowing into Yamuna,” she added.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board’s 10-month-long monitoring of the Yamuna at Nizamuddin, the Yamuna water is unfit not just for drinking but even for bathing. Originating in the lower Himalayas, the Yamuna is 1,376 km long. The 22 km stretch that passes through Delhi is one of the most polluted. Recently spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar announced a three-month campaign to clean the river.

“We are installing interceptors to segregate sewage from flowing into the river. It will take time to clean the river... It took years for authorities in London to even clean the Thames,” she said. Officials said the government will continue to lay interceptors along major drains in Delhi in bringing down the pollution level in the Yamuna.

The main Opposition BJP has been accusing the city government of bungling funds given by the Centre to clean the river.

According to the government figure, over Rs 1,500 crore has been spent in the last couple of years on various projects to clean the river.

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