Let the River Flow
The growing contentions for Yamuna pollution, which is “one of the most polluted rivers in the world” has brought light to the issue of waste water management, groundwater recharge and drinking water availability in nearby cities dependent of Yamuna water.
Yamuna and water rejuvenation:
- Namami Gange plan: The government has invested substantial funds in various initiatives like the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) and the current Namami Gange plan.
- Sewage treatment and strategy: The emphasis of these plans has been on constructing sewage treatment plants (STPs) as a central strategy.
- Citizen-centric approach: While the Namami Gange plan has made improvements by involving people in the clean-up process, it still heavily relies on the STP-centric approach.
Loopholes and bottlenecks:
- Statutory provisions: The absence of statutory provisions to protect floodplains, which play a crucial role in groundwater replenishment.
- Inorganic pollutants: Tackling industrial pollutants is major issue for Yamuna, as no river has the capacity to cleanse inorganic pollutants.
- Policy issues: The larger concern is that there seems to be a lack of significant change in the approach to rejuvenating rivers, including the Yamuna, over the past 40 years.
- A rejuvenation plan: Attention should be given to what happens upstream and care should be taken of the needs of the people who depend on it downstream.
- Needs depending upon amount of water flow: Focus should be on seasonal variations in the amount of water and needs accordingly to save it.
- Alternatives for water sustainability: Comprehensive approach is required that goes beyond pollution control and emphasizes the need for Delhi to explore alternative sources of drinking water to reduce its impact on the Yamuna.