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Yamuna clean up drive: Is Mission 2012 possible?
The Yamuna River has been reduced to a dirty and polluted canal thanks to the tonnes of sewage that makes its way to what has become an apology for a river. The unending clean up drive has yielded little. Now fresh attempts are on.
DESPITE DOZENS of flyovers, towering buildings, huge multiplexes, fun parks, metro and much more, India’s capital New Delhi is not at par with other major cities of the world. A number of reasons are behind Delhi’s ailing position and pollution of river Yamuna is one of them.
If London is famous for beauty of its river the Thames, Delhi is known for pollution of the Yamuna River. Once the lifeline of Delhi, Yamuna has now became the most polluted water resource of the country. It now looks like a sewer.

From big industries and factories to people living in big colonies, slums and rural areas, all pollute the river with impunity because of untreated water. Increasing pollution of the Yamuna has now become an international issue and a cause of concern for environmentalists.

A few years back when the pollution level of Yamuna increased alarmingly, the Delhi government woke up. A number of projects were launched by the government to clean the Yamuna, but till date nothing has happened. Not only the government, but also several NGOs are working to clean the Yamuna. Yet the situation is worsening by the day. You can’t stand for even a few minutes on the Yamuna’s bank at some places due to the foul smell of the stagnant water.

Recently, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit claimed that Yamuna would be cleaner up to 70 per cent before the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Ironically, the Delhi government itself submitted an affidavit before the Supreme Court stating that the Yamuna clean drive would not be complete before 2012. In its affidavit, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said that the river remained a ‘sewage canal’ due to the 143 unauthorised colonies, 1,080 slums and villages that present a problem in collection of sewage water that flows into the Yamuna untreated.

DJB counsel, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, involved in the cleaning up case for the first time, admitted to the court about past lapses. Subramanium also said that a new initiative has been taken up and Engineers India Ltd has been appointed as the consultant for devising and implementing a new sewerage system. DJB counsel said that he would chalked out the plan with the officers concerned, sort out the contradictions and submit a status report before the court on the progress by June 15 this year.
Meanwhile, the court said that the Delhi Jal Board’s plans should be realistic and not just remain confined on paper as had been happening for the last 14 years.

Delhi government has also inserted advertisements in newspapers claiming that the river would be clean by 2010. But the affidavit has cut short the tall claims of Delhi government to clean up the river by 2010. According to reports, for the last 14 years the apex court is monitoring all the steps taken by the Delhi Jal Board to clean up the river. About Rs 1,800 crore has been spent on the cleaning drive in 14 years, but the river is becoming more and more polluted daily.

Supreme Court’s guidelines would certainly force the DJB officials to take essential steps to make the Yamuna clean up drive successful. However, here one is raising an important question before residents of Delhi. Will the clean up drive become successful, without the contribution of Delhites? I think it is almost impossible to make the Yamuna clean up drive successful, till Delhites wake up. Hence, it is the prime duty of Delhites to help the government save the Yamuna. Then only the Yamuna clean up drive 2012 can achieve its goal.

Last but not the least, London’s Thames River was as polluted as Yamuna in the 1960s, but the excellent clean up model was successful in cleaning up the river. We can expect the same from the DJB’s new project and hopefully we will see a clean Yamuna by 2012.
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