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Sansad TV: Yamuna River and its Pollution

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Introduction:

Yamuna River is currently the largest tributary of Ganga. Yamuna originates from a place called Yamunotri in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand and meets Ganga at Prayag. Yamuna river is most polluted throughout its journey in the areas of Delhi, Agra and Mathura. The main reasons for its pollution are industrial pollution, which involves dumping contaminated water from factories directly into the river without treatment and leakage of excreta and filth from the population living on the banks of Yamuna into the river, etc.

 Yamuna River:

  • The river Yamuna is a major tributary of river Ganges.
  • Originates from the Yamunotri glacier near Bandarpoonch peaks in the Mussoorie range of the lower Himalayas in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
  • It meets the Ganges at the Sangam in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh after flowing through Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.
  • Tributaries: Chambal, Sindh, Betwa and Ken.

Why is Yamuna so polluted?

  • The sewage treatment plantsof Delhi are major contributors of the Pollutants being discharged in the river.
  • Pollutants discharge from different types of industry is also a major issue.
  • Agriculture activities along the banks of the river in Delhi contributes to river pollution.
  • Agricultural waste and pesticide discharge from the Haryana field also contributes to the pollution.
  • The low volume of water flow in the river causes the pollutants to accumulate and raise the pollution level.

What causes frothing in the Yamuna?

  • The release of untreated or poorly treated effluents, including sewage from those parts of the city that are not connected to the sewerage network and industrial waste, could lead to frothing.
  • Surfactants and phosphates from detergents in households and industrial laundry find their way into the river, as all the sewage is not treated.
  • The river is in a lean phase and the water flow is less. Pollutants, therefore, are not diluted. The turbulence at the barrage near Okhla generates foam from the phosphates.

Reasons behind the river being more polluted:

  • Rapid urbanisation is widening the gap, since infrastructure planning is not keeping pace with growth in housing.
  • There is poor infrastructure available in a large number of cities and towns located near rivers.
  • Managing sewage requires steady funding of treatment plants for all urban agglomerations that discharge their waste into rivers, and also a reliable power supply.
  • There is failure of several national programs run by the Centre for river conservation, wetland preservation and water quality monitoring.
  • The sewage and industrial effluents freely flow into the rivers in several cities.
  • Deficit between the sewage available and the volume generated along the polluted stretches is estimated at 13,196 million liters a day.
  • Low priority is accorded to the enforcement of laws by SPCBs and pollution control committees.

Government Measures to clean Indian Rivers

  • Namami Ganga Programme: twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)is a five-tier structure at the national, state, and district levels for prevention, control, and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga.
  • National River Conservation Plan
  • National Water Monitoring Programme (NWMP)
  • Vision for 2030: clean rivers, with safe drinking water to all Indians, sustaining and nourishing life, and efficient use of water in irrigation using micro-irrigation techniques.

Wider challenges:

  • Higher biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) at the majority of the stations.
    • BOD is a measure of the oxygen required by aerobic microorganisms to biochemically oxidise organic matter. It affects the amount of dissolved oxygen in rivers.
    • The higher the BOD, the lesser the oxygen available to aquatic life.
  • Lax monitoring as the data collection and dissemination remains challenging.

Way ahead:

  • Treating industrial and chemical waste: Sewage treatment plants (STPs) are going to be the mainstay of river cleaning.
  • Waste to wealth: Identifying, developing and deploying technologies to treat waste to generate energy, recycle materials, and extract resources of value.