Clean Yamuna drive leaves few traces


New Delhi: Two mobile toilets are parked at Geeta Colony The Delhi Municipal Corporation (MCD) has stationed them there as a part of the Yamuna cleaning drive.

There is yet another reminder of the drive. The pile of garbage which was dug out of the river has been left behind on the bank, as was the case in earlier campaigns.

Three days after the state government’s much publicised ‘clean Yamuna’ campaign, children from Yamuna Pushta are back bathing in the inky black stagnant waters of the river.

"For three days some officers came in the morn-ing and stopped us from bathing. But today there was nobody. We waited till afternoon and then jumped in," said a boy, enjoying his bath in the river.

He was nonchalant about the fact that plastic bottles and bags had been dumped in the river.

Also he was not bothered by a nearby nullah which carries untreated sewage from the slum cluster straight into the river.

Similarly, people living in slum clusters near the ITO barrage seemed to be unaware of the state government’s endeavor to clean the Yamuna. "Lots of people came for three days. They seemed to be clearing the river of hyacinths," said Mohammad Alam, a resident of the slum cluster.

While officials did their job for three days, none of them interacted with the residents of the slum clusters.

"We do not know why they came here for three days and then disappeared," said Alam. The state government has spent crores on the Yamuna Action Plan but environmentalists say the policies are skewed. The 22-km stretch of the Yamuna as it flows today is nothing but a receptaele for household and industrial sewage. According to the Center for Science and Environment, about 1,800 million litres of untreated domestic waste and 300 million litres of industrial waste flows into the Yamuna daily.

The river water up-stream of Wazirabad can be made potable after treatment, but its quality degrades heavily after the Najafgarh drain (which throws 80 per cent of the total waste into the Yamuna) and 18 other drains converge into the river.

The amount of faecal matter in the Yamuna is seven crore per 100 millilitre of water as against the permissible limit of 5,00 per 100 ml.

Besides token aware-ness campaigns, little has been done to implement the state government’s much-touted plan that was submitted to the apex court. The plan, involving an investment of Rs 1,500 crore, had multiple projects like setting up 17 sewage treatment and common effluent treatment plants for treating the water and sewage flowing into the river, re-moving 40,000 slum dwellings, constructing 1,150 toilets near the Yamuna and building a water carrier system to transfer the treated water back into the river.

The state government has promised to achieve all this by March 2003.