New Delhi: India’s holy river Yamuna, once considered as the lifeline of Delhi and teeming with life, is practically dead. The soaring pollution in the river refuses to decline despite efforts to bring down the contamination level.

Till date, the Delhi government has spent a whopping Rs 3,000 crore in the name of cleaning the river but sadly the finance seems to be going down the drain yielding no result. In fact, with eighty percent of the pollution directly flowing into the Yamuna from Delhi, the national capital emerges as the major contributor of pollution to the river.

Ironically, the 22 km Delhi stretch of the river constitutes just two percent of the total length of the Yamuna.

Causing a major concern is the high level of pollution in the river passing through Delhi which has posed a threat to the life of aquatic animals. Due to lack of oxygen in the river most of the animals are facing the threat of extinction.

Painting a sad picture of the river, scientists have claimed that the intake of vegetables cultivated by the riverside can be harmful for one’s health.

Reason behind pollution

Immersion of statues made of chemicals, throwing city waste and religious idols into the river increases the pollution level in the river. But the main contributors of pollution are the drains in the capital. In Delhi, its three major drains, Najafgarh drain, Shahdara drain and Sarita Vihar drain, contribute about 80 per cent in terms of discharge.
According to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), “The city produces 660 MGD drainage water every day out of which only 300-350 MGD is purified and the remaining flows into the river.”
The force of the flow of water in the river Yamuna is a major hurdle in the way of purification of the river. Lack of public participation is another major obstacle in the path of the river purification.

Pollution level

The pollution level in Yamuna is 40 BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand). In order to make the river water drinkable, this level should be brought down to 2-3 BOD while a level of 20 BOD will make it usable for irrigational purposes.

Efforts done so far

According to the Directorate of National River Conservation of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Yamuna action plan was launched in 1993 and a budget of Rs 1356 crore was allocated for it in 2009. Under the Yamuna Action Plan I and II, Rs 2800 crore has already been spent on its cleanliness, according to a government report released in 2009.