The revival of the Yamuna River in troubled waters – the New Indian Express

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Express news service

Talk about Delhi, and the idea of ​​Yamuna is unlikely to cross your mind. But the image of the gushing river is not pleasant. Before entering the national capital, it is much clearer and more beautiful. As soon as it approaches the city gates, the river is greeted and inundated with industrial pollutants, raw sewage and toxic waste.

Despite several measures, discussions and initiatives, little progress has been made by state governments in keeping the Yamuna clean. In recent years, the situation has only deteriorated rather than improved. “In recent years, the river has become more polluted. It is a collective failure of all organizations and governments, ”said Bhim Singh Rawat, Yamuna activist and member of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).

In May, the Yamuna monitoring committee asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to conduct tests to verify whether the water quality of the river had improved during the locking. The committee said there was a five- to six-fold increase in the availability of freshwater downstream from Wazirabad in April, which contributed to the dilution of pollution caused by sewage from major drains like Najafgarh and Shahdara.

The CPCB had also reported that the availability of fresh water in Yamuna had more than quintupled downstream from Wazirabad during containment. The DPCC report, based on samples collected from nine stations along the river and 20 stations on the drains, said that BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) concentrations improved by 20 to 33% at ITO, Nizamuddin, Agra Canal Jaitpur, Okhla Barrage (upstream) and Okhla.

Timeline of promises
In 2020, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that his government was developing a concrete plan to clean up Yamuna and reduce its pollution by 90% by 2023. The stimulus mechanism was built around four major principles. First, the Delhi government would set up a modern technology factory to treat around 150 MGD (million gallons per day) of polluted water from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by natural wetlands and a method of ‘aeration. Second, wastewater from small or large drains must be directed to sewage treatment plants (STP). Third, measures must be taken to improve the quality of existing STPs, including upgrading equipment and using innovative processes. Fourth, sludge and sludge from the city’s septic tanks will be collected by the Delhi Jal Board and reused in biogas plants to produce electricity and gas.

In February this year, Water Minister Satyendar Jain said Yamuna’s clean project would be completed in three years. In April, Kejriwal expressed his displeasure with the delays in various projects related to the cleanup of Yamuna. Cleaning up the river was one of the main electoral promises made by the ruling party ahead of the 2020 parliamentary elections.

In June, Jain said the government’s ambitious plan to introduce a cleaner Yamuna is on track despite some slowdown due to the pandemic. Jain said that to reduce pollution in the river, the government has already banned the sale, storage, transport and marketing of soaps and detergents that do not meet the latest BIS standards. The main reason for toxic foam formation in Yamuna is the high phosphate content in wastewater due to detergents used in the dyeing industries, dhobi ghats and households, officials said.

How to reach the goal
The DJB claimed to be on the war footing to make sure. The department has taken several measures. According to officials, Delhi currently has four main sources of pollutants affecting Yamuna: sewage treatment plants (STP), untreated water from unauthorized settlements, sewage from licensed settlements and letter carriers. interstate involving Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

To treat wastewater at wastewater treatment plants, the DJB adopts a five-step intervention method to improve water quality. Coagulant dosage: In this case, alum is used to remove suspended solids in PBS because currently dissolved solids are 60% and with the use of alum it will be 80%. Increased ventilation capacity: Many existing STP are old. Particles that are supposed to be treated according to the National Green Tribunal are currently not designed. Restructuring is underway so that they can also process BOD and ammonia.

Implementation of plastic supports: this method improves the efficiency of STP. It basically acts as a house for the growth of bacteria which makes the water cleaner. The more bacteria there are, the cleaner the water. In most cases, this is the last step in the pre-treatment of water for the removal of undissolved impurities before treatment by ion exchange or reverse osmosis.

Disc Filters: These are constructed using many flat, grooved discs stacked tightly on top of each other and contained within a housing. Water flows into the filter housing, surrounds the stacked discs, and is forced through the grooves by pressure, removing the filtered material. It is a weave of fabric that physically removes suspended solids. This aid removes ammonia and maintains the NGT water parameter.

Incineration: This is the high temperature combustion (rapid oxidation) of waste, also known as controlled flame combustion or calcination. It is a technology that destroys the organic constituents of waste. New techniques are being developed for this process, which are used as methods of generating energy. Ash is used to make bricks.

“Our goal is zero waste STP. And this will serve a dual purpose. With these methods, the water will be clean and sent to different lakes, horticultural centers, where clean water can be used. Extra-clean water must be reused, ”said Ankit Srivastava, DJB advisor. “In areas with sewer pipes in unauthorized settlements, we are installing pipelines on the war footing that will be completed in three years. As in East Delhi, there is 100% sewerage, but there is no connection and therefore the wastewater flows through the sewers and ends up in the Yamuna. The DJB has adopted a policy to provide domestic sewer connections and the cost to be borne by the state government. It must be applicable in both authorized and unauthorized areas, ”Srivastava added.

Regarding the interstate factor, Delhi receives 105 MGD from Gurgaon via the Najafgarh drain and 50 MGD from Uttar Pradesh via the Shahdara drain. “To treat the water from the Haryana, we use in-situ treatment – treated wastewater inside the drains so that the water circulates and is cleaned. Of these 105 MGD, 90 MGD are at the Badshahpur drain where in-situ is already implemented and rest on drain number 6 which comes from Narela and is processed at Narela STP. So if we have an STP nearby, we trap the drainage water in it and clean it. When this is not possible, we opt for the in situ method, ”said Srivastava.

“There are four main drains in Delhi that meet at Yamuna – Najafgarh, Supplementary, Barapullah and Shahdara. Now we have started the stitching of the drains. So far we have provided 1.25 lakh sewer connections in the city. In the case of Barapullah, we collect and send it to Okhla STP, ”explained the advisor.

According to the head of the DJB, industrial pollution is not a major factor in Yamuna’s pollution as it is less than 10 percent. “Where the pollutants first mix with Yamuna’s water, there is some visibility, but as soon as it drains away it gets diluted. Wherever we have to recycle the water, we let’s go with ozonation technology. It’s the latest technology that breaks down pesticides and kills viruses. All of this is happening simultaneously. We are in the process of issuing tenders.

Are we doing enough?
Rawat said that previously several promises had been made but none were kept. “It is not possible to clean Yamuna. I don’t know how much has been accomplished. Sewage flow is a major problem. There is no proper follow-up, even the oversight committees are not serious about the measures, ”the activist said.
In 2018, a two-member YMC, comprising former Delhi Chief Secretary Shailaja Chandra and former Tribunal expert member BS Sajwan, was established by NGT. The committee that was disbanded in January had submitted reports containing details of progress, or lack thereof, on meeting NGT guidelines and also made recommendations to rejuvenate the river.

One of the crucial actions taken by YMC in 2018 was to suggest that the central water ministry commission a study to assess the required environmental flow (e-flow) in the river between Hathnikund of Haryana and Okhla of Delhi. .

“The committee did not have the power to order and take action against the violations, but only to review and inform the implementation of the instructions issued by the NGT and to submit reports for the issuance of instructions. Relaunching a river requires not only pollution reduction measures but, more importantly, a certain minimum flow in the river called environmental flow.

A study by the National Institute of Hydrology made some recommendations. The central government, in consultation with the state stakeholders, must collectively tackle this problem. In addition, sewage from 1,799 unauthorized settlements is a major problem, ”said Sajwan, who was a member of the committee.

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