2,000cr down Ya­muna drain No Im­prove­ment In Wa­ter Qual­ity Af­ter 22 Years Of ‘In­co­her­ent’ Spend­ing

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - Jayashree Nandi & Neha Lalchan­dani Data: Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board

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.

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