Cabinet clears projects for cleaning up Yamuna
The Times of India News Service
NEW DELHI: In another piecemeal move, the Union government has cleared some more projects supposed to help clean up a long-suffering Yamuna river deluged by pollutants for decades.
This, in essence, is what the government calls the Yamuna Action Plan - Extended Phase, part of the National River Conservation Plan. Under the latest lot of approvals from the cabinet, on Thursday, projects worth a total of Rs 222 crore will be taken up in Delhi, Haryana and UP. The bulk of the money, Rs 166 crore, comes to Delhi - the Wazirabad to Okhla stretch is considered the most polluted part of the entire river.
The additional money is coming from Japan. And, Delhi, says the Union environment ministry, is supposed to spend three-fourths of it on building 1,146 community toilet complexes in resettlement colonies which still don't have proper sanitation. Their deadline is March 2002.
This, says the ministry, should reduce the pollution load of the Yamuna. Central Pollution Control Board chairman Dilip Biswas may be more realistic in saying, ``This will end open defecation.'' And, even if it doesn't do wonders for the river, it will provide at least some basic amenities to people.
For projects, says Biswas, can only be part of cleaning up a river - they cannot substitute for treating a river as an ecological entity well above political and state barriers.
While the Yamuna awaits some relief, the government has finally approved some funding plans for three lakes under the National Lake Conservation Plan. Rs 6.6 crore goes for Mumbai's oldest, dying lake - the Powai Lake, which provided drinking water to citizens for almost a century and figured as a locale in quite a few Hindi films of yore.
Another Rs 6 crore goes for Kodaikanal, and just under Rs 2 crore for Ooty. The idea is to use low-cost and sustainable bioremediation processes to clean these lakes, boost recreation and tourism and last, but not the least, get biological manure from composting the deadly weed, water hyacinth.