Maintenance of Minimum Flow in River Yamuna

One of the reasons of pollution of river Yamuna is the non-availability of the minimum desirable flow in the river. In order to assess the problem created by non-availability of minimum flow and to suggest remedial measures, a High Powered Committee under the Chairmanship of Member (Environment), Planning Commission has been set up in Jnuary’98. The Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and UP are the Members of this Committee. The Committee is required to carry out the following tasks:-

  1. To assess the requirement of a minimum flow in the river Yamuna to facilitate restoration of the desired river water quality.

  2. To suggest remedial measures (both short-term and long-term) for maintaining the minimum flow in the river.

The High Powered Committee (HPC) has had four meetings and suggested a number of measures to be taken up on short-term and long-term basis in order to maintain a minimum flow of 10 cumecs in river Yamuna for maintenance of river ecology. The measures suggested are as under:-

Short-term Measures

a) The NCT Government of Delhi is constructing 15 Sewage treatment plants including two under Yamuna Action Plan. All the Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) under construction in Delhi are expected to be completed by the year 2000. The HPC directed that the work on construction of STPs needs to be monitored closely so that there is no slippage in their budget. Immediate steps may be taken by the Delhi Government to ensure that the treatment plants are utilised to their full capacity and they operate according to their design parameters.

b) According to the policy of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, treated water is to be used for irrigation purposes and not to be released in the river as the river is already suffering for want of dilution capacity. Delhi has been asked to explore the possibility of using the treated waste water from different sewage treatment plants for irrigation purposes in a decentralised manner. As per the decision of HPC, Delhi and Haryana may resolve the issue of exchange of treated sewage with fresh water being presently given by the Haryana in parts of rural areas of Delhi. Delhi may give treated water from their existing treatment works in a manner desirable by the user farmers of Delhi and in lieu thereof, Haryana should release fresh water for Delhi’s Nangloi water treatment plant.

c) The entire trunk sewerage network for Delhi which runs for about 132 kms is heavily silted up and collapsed at a number of places. As a first priority, Delhi should repair and rehabilitate this sewerage network, the funding for which could partly be tried through a soft loan from OECF, Japan under Yamuna Action Plan.

d) In order to maintain a minimum flow of 10 cumecs the riparian states are asked to provide fresh water in the formula as used for the purpose of sharing of Yamuna Water among these states. Accordingly, the ratios decided for the riparian states are:-




Uttar Pradesh









Himachal Pradesh



With the diversion of the entire treated sewage water away from the river, the 10 cumecs of fresh water will remain fresh in the river throughout. The diverted treated waste water rich in nutrients from Delhi will be quite suitable for irrigation purposes in UP and Haryana.

e) Measures should be taken in the riparian states to improve the water use efficiency and to economize on its uses. This will be an important factor both in short-term and in the long-term management of the river system. Economy in water use is particularly recommended for Delhi.

f) From the experience it is found that the conventional systems of sewerage and sewage treatment are not affordable in developing countries like India and, therefore, it is necessary to consider cheaper options wherever possible. Government of Delhi may explore the possibility to construct a few eco-parks in the city. For this purpose, Delhi Government may carry out survey and identify a suitable location where land could be made available for 5-6 eco-parks. Since the land along Yamuna river where such eco-parks may come up belong to DDA, they may be requested to take up such schemes directly.

g) Delhi, Haryana and CPCB to take necessary steps for –

    a) expediting construction of CETPs; and

    b) monitoring of water quality at various places as directed by the Court and submit the report to HPC.

Long-term Measures

i) Under the long-term measures, early completion of the Renuka Dam in HP and Kishau and Tehri Dam in UP was found necessary. The project report of the Renuka Dam had been examined in Central Water Commission and was likely to be cleared subject to the clearance of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), the appaisal of which should also include the requirement of maintenance of minimum flow in river Yamuna. HPC has directed Central Water Commission to pose this project to MOEF for their appraisal from all environmental angles including the maintenance of minimum flow in the river Yamuna.

ii) The possibility of releasing water in river Yamuna at Tajewala from Tajewala-Bhakra Link should also be examined and taken as an alternative for maintaining the minimum flow in river Yamuna.

iii) The completion of Satluj Yamuna Link, which is already 95% complete and only a small work is left, could greatly help in addressing most of the problems confronting the water supply in Delhi and maintenance of minimum flow in the river Yamuna. Due to non-completion of these projects, a sizeable quantity of water flows down to the neighbouring country on one hand and water logging is taking place in several areas of Punjab on the other. Necessary directions to the Govt. of Punjab may be issued by the HPC to take necessary steps to complete this project as early as possible.

iv) Under the National Perspective Plan, two links viz., Tajewala from Tajewala-Bhakra and Ganga-Sirhind Canal have been proposed under Himalayan Rivers Development Component. The National Water Authority has been assigned with the responsibility to survey, investigate and prepare feasibility of all such proposed links. Since these proposed links could augment the flow in Yamuna river, the work of preparation of their feasibility reports should be expedited.

v) It is necessary to limit the extent of fresh water usage in major cities by encouraging decongestion through reverse migration of people from urban to semi-urban and rural areas.

Guidelines on Water Quality Monitoring Strategy under National River Conservation Plan

The water quality monitoring (WQM) strategy for river Ganga was stipulated by an Expert Group in 1986. This WQM programme has been reviewed by Expert Groups from time to time over the years. Recently , in May, 1999, the guidelines on WQM were revised by an Expert Group headed by Prof. J M Dave. The revised guidelines which shall have a three pronged strategy are as follows:

1. For Rivers under National River Conservation Plan, where no pollution abatement programme is contemplated or initiated or where projects are not yet proposed by NRCD – for such rivers NRCD may rely on CPCB/SPCBs data for GEMS and MINARS.

2. For rivers where proposals for pollution abatement works are being undertaken, the monitoring strategy should be as under:

    a) The monitoring of water quality may be initiated as soon as the core schemes are approved.

    b) Selection of monitoring stations may be for U/S, D/S of the town; any strategic point in between U/S and D/S.

    c) The methodology of monitoring may continue to remain same as before.

    d) Important bathing ghats should be selected.

3. Monitoring strategy for towns/rivers where sewage treatment plants are nearly completed, completed or commissioned and operational:–

    a) In addition to the surface monitoring, STP performance monitoring may be carried out once a month and data compared with that of the implementing agency.

    b) The monitoring of drain/outfall may be closed.

    c) Once a year, a sanitary survey including the characterisation of waste waters must be done.

4. The water quality monitoring for towns added as per the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme court may be monitored seasonally.

5. Site specific research studies should be taken up by NRCD.

6. The other recommendations given by the experts were as under:

    a) The frequency of monitoring (except in cases where core activities are not undertaken) shall be once a month.

    b) The parameters to be monitored should be restricted to core parameters and site specific heavy metals on monthly basis.

    c) Once a year all the 42 parameters may be monitored.

    d) The number of monitoring stations awarded to an institution should not be less than four, preferably.

    e) Mid-course corrections i.e. review of water quality monitoring must be carried out at least once a year.

    f) Analytical Quality Control on the participating laboratories must be carried out once a year. Random checks may be done by NRCD or by experts nominated by NRCD.

    g) NRCD should organise training programmes on water quality monitoring, PFR preparations (where needed) and treatment technologies more frequently.

Members of the Expert Group on Water Quality Monitoring Strategy were:


Prof. J M Dave



Prof. I C Aggarwal



Prof. R P Mathur



Prof. Halappa Gowda



Prof. R H Siddiqi



Dr. R C Trivedi



Shri M C Chadha, Director, CWC



Shri K Mohan, Adv., NRCD



Dr. (Mrs) R Dalwani

Member Secretary