Proof of how Yamuna can still be saved
2018 To 2019: Big Pollution Gains Post Ganesh Chaturthi
New Delhi: After the ban on immersion of idols in the Yamuna to prevent pollution by heavy metals and toxic dyes, Ganesh Chaturthi in September was the first time devotees in Delhi consigned clay statues of the elephantheaded god to water in specially created ponds instead of the river. If the data gathered by Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) post-immersion in 2018 and 2019 is an indication, the river water saw a significant reduction in pollution levels. DPCC says this is a strong signal that banning idol immersion in the Yamuna can be effective in preventing contamination of the river. The panel is currently assessing the water quality post-Durga Puja.
The Ganesh Chaturthi data that TOI has accessed shows a reduction across almost all parameters, among them presence of heavy metals, total dissolved solids and biological oxygen demand, which measures whether aquatic life can survive in the water. “With no immersion of idols, the total dissolved solids, total soluble solids, total solids and heavy metal have gone down significantly,” Arun Mishra, member-secretary, DPCC, told TOI. “Because no toxic dyes and paints entered the water, there has been an improvement in the biological and chemical oxygen demands.”
DPCC compared data gathered from 10 ghats for 2018 and 2019 and found improved water quality at all locations. The water quality is determined by analysing parameters such as acidity, suspended and dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen and the presence of copper, nickel, iron, cadmium, lead, zinc and other metals. At Shyam Ghat, the total soluble solids (TSS) decreased from 1008 mg/l last year to just 24 mg/l this year,
Shyam Ghat Geeta Colony Ghat
Mayur Vihar Ghat Kalindi Kunj Ghat
PARAMETERS ASSESSED: while the total metals came down from 3.26 mg/l to 0.74 mg/l. At Sur Ghat, TSS levels went down substantially from 878 mg/l in 2019 to 22 this year. The total metals came down to 4.6 mg/l this year against 12 last year, while at Qudsia Ghat TSS fell from 180 mg/l last year to 24 in 2019.
As for the biological oxygen demand — a level of 3 mg/l and below sustains aquatic life — the improvement this year was remarkable. At Ram Ghat, it feel from 6 mg/l to 4.8 mg/l, at Sur Ghat from12 mg/l to 4.6, at Kali Ghat from 20 mg/l to 6.2, and at Qudsia Ghat from 18 mg/l to 8. The drop was highest at Kalindi Kunj — from 35 mg/l to 15.5.
“The drop in the parameters shows the impact that stopping immersion of idols can have on the Yamuna,” said Mishra. However, Manoj Mishra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said the ban on immersions should be seen only as a first step. “Idol immersion is a seasonal occurrence, so a lot more needs to be done to control effluents and other contaminants being discharged into the Yamuna,” said Mishra.