Capital on the banks of a drain called Yamuna.
The Central Pollution Control Board ( CPCB) told the Supreme Court on Friday that Yamuna has almost ceased to exist in Delhi with no fresh water but the flow was maintained by treated and untreated water from the Najafgarh drain.
" For major part of the year, river Yamuna does not flow downstream of Wazirabad barrage as all the river water upstream of the barrage is ponded ( sic) for water supply in Delhi. Yamuna flows after confluence of Najafgarh drain downstream of Wazirabad barrage," the CPCB said in its interim report to the apex court which is monitoring the cleaning drive of the river.
CPCB counsel Vijay Panjwani submitted before a bench presided over by Justice Swatanter Kumar at the outset that Yamuna, after the Wazirabad barrage was merely a drain.
" You mean there is no river water?" Justice Kumar asked.
Panjwani said river water at the barrage was diverted to treatment plants for water supply.
He further pointed out that 37 per cent of the sewage treatment plants ( STPs) in Delhi were under- utilised as they did not receive sewage because of lack of drainage system in many areas.
Giving three weeks for a final report, the court said it expected definite suggestions with respect to the drainage system and the manner in which pollution could be controlled to change ' dirty' Yamuna to clean Yamuna in the larger interests of people.
The facts presented before the apex court, however, did not come as surprise to the experts and environmentalists who have been campaigning for a cleaner, lively Yamuna for years.
" Nothing can be done about Yamuna unless we can operate all the STPs at 100 percent capacity; pump in about ` 30,000 crore for a major infrastructure overhaul; and reduce the population pressure in the national capital with some incentives," said Vikram Soni, a Jamia University professor.
Ravi Agarwal, director of Toxics India, wanted the government to ensure that there was a limit to the amount of water that can be drawn from the river. Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator at the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People described Yamuna as a " national shame".
SAVING THE RIVER
Operate Sewage Treatment Plants ( STP) in Delhi at 100 per cent capacity. Currently, 37 per cent of the STPs are under- utilised
Pump in around ` 30,000 crore for a major infrastructure overhaul
' Immediate' 50 percent ceiling to the amount of Yamuna river water that is drawn out for domestic consumption
Conventional measures such as de- silting and making sewer lines
Non- conventional measures such as aeration of river water
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