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YAMUNA ACTION PLAN

River Yamuna is one of the major rivers in India and also a major tributary to India’s largest river - river Ganges.

In India the rivers has been classified into five classes as shown Figure below. Yamuna River becomes dirty from third phase onwards which passes through Delhi.

 

Riverine water resources, including river Yamuna, are increasingly becoming vulnerable to quantity decline and quality degradation due to human activities, the modified flow regime due to water holding structures or barrages, withdrawal of water for irrigation & drinking purposes and the cumulative discharge of domestic, industrial & agricultural wastewaters has converted the Yamuna into almost an open sewer in the stretch of Delhi and Agra. As a result, the river is impacting the bio-diversity of the ecosystem and endangering public health of the inhabitants. The prevalence of poor sanitation practices also contributes to the proliferation of a number of diseases and an adverse living environment.

Yamuna Action Plan I and II

In 1977-78, CPCB initiated a study to assess the status of pollution of Yamuna River over its 1200 km course. The study examined the topography of the drainage basin, base flow, population, land use pattern, industries, and agriculture practices and estimated the pollution load from activities in the basin. Study conducted by the CPCB indicated that the major cause of pollution is the discharge of domestic wastewater into the river which is about two-third of the pollution load. The remaining pollution is contributed by industries and agriculture. Based on the findings of this study, the  Government of India (GoI) decided to take up water quality restoration measures  named as Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) under the mega project of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) phase–II. The Government of Japan provided loan assistance for implementation of YAP in December-1990. YAP was formally launched in 1993, now called as YAP phase I (YAP I). The main activities covered under YAP were interception and diversion works, pumping stations, STPs, low cost toilet complex, crematorium, plantation, bathing ghat / river front development, public participation and awareness and computer networking system. The limitation of YAP I were:

·         The STP capacity created remained under-utilised to the extent of 25-45% because of severe limitations in the collection system and power availability.

·         The strategy in YAP-I did not adequately address non-point sources.

·         Municipalities and agencies which were responsible for Operation & Maintenance (O&M) of sewerage infrastructure were constrained to maximize the operational efficiency of the system due to a combination of factors related to skills, finance, management systems, power cuts and upstream sewerage infrastructure.

Subsequently, the work continued with the launch of YAP phase II (YAP II) in the year 2004 with the senctioned cost of 647 crores.The project was completed in 2008 Under YAP II, emphasis was on the 22-km stretch of Yamuna in Delhi. The Yamuna Action Plan Project Phase II is regarded as the core project under the National River Conservation Plan of Government of India. The project addresses the abatement of severe pollution of the River Yamuna by raising sewage treatment capacity, caused by rapid population growth, industrialization and urbanization. The plan includes building new and expanding capacity of old sewage treatment plants and laying and rehabilitating sewers to enhance the treatment capacity particularly in Delhi and Agra. Public participation and awareness were also a part of project to ensure the residents' recognition of the necessity of water quality conservation in the River Yamuna, and would establish linkage between the river conservation and their own living environments. But, there had been no concrete results even though Rs.1,500 crore had been spent through phases one and two of the Yamuna Action Plan. It has been observed that despite of the continuous efforts to minimize the pollution load still the BOD is not decreasing.

The Yamuna Action Plan Phase - III project for Delhi has been approved by the Ministry in December, 2011 at an estimated cost of Rs 1656 crore with loan assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency. Besides this, two projects have also been sanctioned by the Ministry in July, 2012 at an estimated cost of Rs. 217.87 crore for taking up works for pollution abatement of river Yamuna in towns of Sonepat and Panipat in Haryana which are located on upstream of Wazirabad in Delhi. 

NGT rules related to Yamuna

As a consequence of present deplorable state of the river, NGT has given directions to take up cleaning of Yamuna under Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Plan, 2017. In pursuance of this direction, the Centre and the Delhi government have come together to launch projects under phase three of the Yamuna Action Plan which will cost Rs. 825 crores. This Yamuna Action Plan-3 will be the first plan to comprehensively help with sewage treatment and solid waste management along with river front development and providing a proper Chhat Ghat for devotees.

National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered that every household in Delhi will have to pay a monthly environmental compensation to clean up Yamuna River. According to the direction, the compensation to be paid will be directly proportional to the property or water tax whichever is higher, paid by a particular household. In case of unauthorized colonies households that do not pay property tax or water bill will have to pay an amount that would be between 100 rupees to 500 rupees.

According to the Tribunal, industrial units within a particular industrial cluster have to pay these amounts on the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle, for the pollution already caused by them and even which they are causing presently, as well as to prevent pollution in future on the Precautionary Principle. Major part of such costs, obviously have to be borne by the authorities concerned, let us say 2/3rd, while 1/3rd of the total costs should be borne by the industries.

Way forward

  • Effective coordination between State and Central government agencies is required in terms of execution
  • It is necessary to reduce the quantity of water being drawn from the river for irrigation. Efficient irrigation methods like sprinklers or drip method should be used.
  • Effective check to ensure in situ treatment of effluents is done before discharge from industries.
  • Steps must be taken to relocate the existing settlements and encroachments near the floodplains and no further encroachments should be allowed.
  • There should be a ban on construction of new barrages
  • Since there is shortage of landfill sites in Delhi, most wastes are dumped in the river. Keeping this in mind, immediate action needs to be taken to identify more landfill sites in Delhi.
  • Public awareness is most important prevention measure. Effective steps should be taken to enhance public awareness.
     

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