Millennium Post

Dismal state

A walk by the riverside or a view from the bridge is enough to reflect on the poor state Yamuna is in today, or has been since quite some time. Though the commotion around cleaning the Yamuna, much like Ganga, is always audible, however, efforts have not made a considerable difference. Cleaning a river is not a simple task. The loud intention regarding cleaning the Yamuna instils hope that the adversity is been taken care of. Yet, it has been a fairly long time and the indifferent attitude towards it has only damaged it further. The dismal picture that it casts upon the onlookers makes them question its survival per se. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari recently urged how we can drink Yamuna's water in 18 months stressing on the efforts being carried out by the Centre to clean the river and ensure its incessant flow. The Yamuna's current state draws a sharp contrast to his audacious promise. But 18 months can make a difference. Question is will it? The Union Minister said that the Centre had sanctioned projects worth ₹4,500 crore under Namami Gange – National Mission for Clean Ganga, which also involves cleaning the Yamuna and further, setting up sewage treatment plants. He assured that Ganga will be 100 per cent clean by March 2020, citing how work is ongoing on 13 projects in Delhi besides 2 already completed in Haryana. For the sake of Yamuna, these actions are much needed. However, their implementation is the key. On Tuesday, NGT directed Delhi, Haryana and UP to submit a performance guarantee worth ₹10 crore each within a month after being dissatisfied with the cleaning of Yamuna. A bench constituting the NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel asked the state governments to deposit the amount with Central Pollution Control Board so as to ensure that the work is done without any lapses. The bench further warned that the chief secretaries of respective states would be liable for any instance of non-compliance. NGT's monitoring committee had made recommendations to the states in the cleaning of Yamuna and this serves as a warning to them for expeditiously furnishing the final report. Besides recommending solid waste cleaning, drain and garbage cleaning, the committee raised concern on the environmental flow of the river. Asserting that the river is "fighting to stay alive" the monitoring committee urged that the Yamuna won't rejuvenate unless minimum environmental flow was maintained. Clearly, the Green panel's view that the Yamuna was highly contaminated with industrial effluents and sewage was disregarded by the state governments owing to the unknown status of compliance regarding its specific order. The casual take of the authorities places the Yamuna in grave danger. The water level is decreased and polluted to the point where the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), though for its own water supply matter, filed a plea in the Delhi High Court regarding the obstructed flow of water in the Yamuna. Upon hearing the plea, Delhi High Court directed the state of Haryana to file an explanation by February 4 regarding DJB's issue. It further notified Haryana that an unsatisfactory response will attract scrutiny by a high-level committee. AAP government said that Haryana was not allowing clean water to flow into the Yamuna, making the water more polluted for the National Capital. Though the purpose here, apparently, is inclined more towards water supply to Central Delhi. But Haryana's obstruction is indeed harming the Yamuna. DJB said that the channel blocked using 'bunds' by Haryana has deprived the Yamuna of the clean water, and the water at Wazirabad has a high concentration of Ammonia – rendering it unfit for treatment. The environmental flow of Yamuna, its level and water quality – all three are affected, while we instil our faith in Union Minister's word. Complying by the rules is the foremost step that must be taken in the direction of rejuvenating the Yamuna. While Namami Gange comes up with the study regarding the environmental flow of Yamuna, the water level of Yamuna must be raised to appropriate levels. The river is choked because of all kinds of pollutants. Its current state and the non-compliance of recommendations towards its cleaning spark apprehensions how 18 months may not be enough. A joint task force must be constituted collectively by the three states to clean the Yamuna instead of quarrels over state-exclusive issues such as water supply to cities. The Yamuna needs to be rescued from the dying state it is in. It is sad to note how all the great cities around the world gave utmost priority to the river that facilitated establishments around it, while Delhi struggled in doing so. And the blame is not to be entirely held by Delhi since Haryana also contributes to it, however, the last thing is the two states fighting over the river's water supply while it gradually dies.

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