2,000cr down Yamuna drain No Improvement In Water Quality After 22 Years Of ‘Incoherent’ Spending
New Delhi: The city has spent over Rs 2,000 crore on Yamuna clean-up in the last 22 years. This shocking revelation came during a hearing in the Supreme Court on Monday. The reality becomes starker when you consider recent and past data that show no improvement in water quality: total coliform, or mostly human and animal excreta, continues to be in lakhs, and even crores, when the standard is a maximum of 5,000 mpn/100 ml (most probably number/100 ml). Also, dissolved oxygen (DO), a must for many forms of life in the water, continues to be negligible, which reiterates that it’s a dead river.
DO levels in March months of 2002 and 2006 at Nizamuddin and Palla were 0; in 2016, these were 0.9 and 0.7, respectively. Total coliform levels went up to 16 crore in June last year. No Yamuna cleaning project has managed to bring a perceptible difference to water quality. Apart from Yamuna Action Plans on which the bulk of funds were spent, the National Green Tribunal, in its 2015 judgment, had ordered augmenting the functioning of sewage-treatment plants that are running under capacity and constructing 32 smaller STPs in a decentralised manner.
“According to DJB, there are 23 STP’s planned and existing as of today in Delhi….the oxidation pond at Timarpur, which was commissioned in 1947, is proposed to be closed. There is an STP at Okhla, which was commissioned in 1937, and four STP’s at Kondli are lying closed due to inadequate sewerage…the entire STP infrastructure, if made fully functional, can be utilised to support and aid implementation of the project,” NGT had Standard: 4 (Minimum) Palla 2002 2006 2016 0 0 0 0 0.9 0.7 Nizamuddin Okhla 7.8 ➤ Dissolved oxygen (DO) is the level of oxygen present in the water, an important parameter in assessing water quality because it’s necessary for many forms of life, including fish and plants. The fact that DO is around 0 in Nizamuddin and Okhla shows the river is dead. DO levels are slightly better at Palla where the river enters the city. It also reflects that Yamuna’s water quality falls dramatically within Delhi ➤ Water quality even in polluted Okhla improves post-monsoon when BOD falls to 4 in August 2016 compared to 31 in July. The monsoons help dilute the pollutants YAP-III: Fund allocation ➤ Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is the amount of DO needed by microorganisams for decomposing said. There is no implementation of this order so far. Delhi Jal Board claims that it has the capacity to treat 604 million gallons per day of sewage, of which it is treating about 75%.
Brij Gopal, former JNU professor and member of NGT’s expert panel on Yamuna, said: “Nothing has moved. Sewage is not even reaching the STPs. If untreated sewage is flowing down the drain, what do you expect? Plus there is no flow in the river.”
Under phases I and II of the Yamuna Action Plan, launched in 1993, Rs 576.73 crore has already been spent. Under YAP-III, an additional Rs 1,600 organic matter in the water. Again Palla has the lowest BOD while
Okhla has the highest Spent: ➤ Total coliform is just excreta that ends up in the river through untreated sewage. In July 2016, Okhla had a TC of 16 crore against a standard of 5,000 (max) crore has been allocated, which is yet to be used.
“Yamuna, like all of Delhi, has suffered due to multiplicity of agencies. Crores were definitely allocated but the money was used incoherently. DJB was doing something while the corporations were doing something else. We are hopeful now that the interceptor sewer system, when it is completed by next year, will finally clean the river,” said a senior government official.
Experts also say that policies to clean Yamuna have only been STP-oriented when the biggest issue is the fact that the river has no water or ecological flow. SC, in a 1998 order, had directed that 10 cumecs of water be released into the river through the year. Experts feel that 10 cumecs is inadequate, but as of now even that is not being released. Following NGT’s 2015 judgment, about 10 cumecs is being released at Hatnikund, but that reduces significantly as it flows downstream. “The only answer to this is to ensure more water is released. Sewage treatment alone cannot ensure unhindered flow” said Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, who had moved NGT on Yamuna pollution.
Meanwhile both Centre and Delhi government have an- Total cost of interceptor sewer system (including O&M for 11 yrs): nounced several cosmetic measures. For example, last year, Centre launched a trash skimmer to clean the water surface and announced a “proper” chhat ghat. In an effort to develop the river front, Delhi government started a Yamuna Aarti and developed a ‘Nakshatra Vatika’ along the river bed.
Union water minister Uma Bharti had announced last year that Lakhwar Vyasi Dam in Uttarakhand would release water in Yamuna during lean season, which was contested by environmental experts because the project is unlikely to get environmental clearance.