Dirty flows the Yamuna
NEW DELHI: The inky black stagnant water mass that is passed off as the Yamuna stares blankly at the swanky Delhi Secretariat at ITO.
From the power corridors here, the city administrators announce grand policies and allocate huge sums on projects to clean the river.
But still what overlooks the city administration office is nothing but a colossal drain. The Yamuna has, in fact, broken all records of river pollution.
Only 2 per cent of the river flows through Delhi, but during this course it accumulates more than 80 per cent of the total waste going into the river.
The coliform (faecal matter) in the Yamuna is seven crore per 100 mililitre of water as against the permissible limit of 5,000 per 100 mililitre.
"The situation is disgusting to say the least," the Supreme Court bench had observed last year while directing the state government to clean the river by March 2003. Why, despite years of planning and spending over Rs 500 crore in last five years, has the state government failed to clean the river?
The policies are obviously skewed, environment experts say. The state government explains its failure to clean the river with sophistry and goes back to complacency.
"The river cannot be cleaned in a day or a year. We need more time and planning," says Delhi state environment secretary Naini Jayseelan. Funds worth crores of rupees continue to be pumped in every year to de-pollute the river, but with no improvement in sight. So what's going wrong?
The 22-km stretch of the Yamuna as it flows today is nothing but a receptacle of household and industrial sewerage. According to the Centre for Science and Environment, about 1,800 million litres of untreated domestic waste and another 300 million litres of industrial waste flows into the Yamuna daily.
The river water upstream of Wazirabad can be made potable after treatment, but after the confluence of the Najafgarh drain (which throws 80 per cent of the total waste into the Yamuna) and 18 other drains, the water quality degrades heavily.
Delhi Jal Board, the city's sole water supplier, has been entrusted with the task of treating the waste water flowing into the Yamuna.
To do this, the DJB has set up 12 sewage treatment plants to treat 437 million gallons of waste water. By next year, the DJB hopes to build five more STPs. Despite these plants, untreated sewage is still flowing into the river in huge quantity.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, which keeps a tab on the government's efforts to clean the river, the STPs treat only 30 per cent of their total capacity. CSE director Sunita Narain says: "The government has a hardware mentality. It has built STPs which are nothing but white elephants."
"These plants were set up without building a supporting infrastructure. They do not even have the funds to operate them."
More than 50 per cent of the sewer lines do not reach the STPs. About 90 kilometre of the total 131-km of trunk sewers have collapsed.
"The bulk of sewerage does not reach these STPs due to these connection problems," Jal Board chief P K Tripathi conceded.
Also, whatever waste water the DJB treats and throws into the Yamuna with almost a sense of achievement does not still meet the environmental parameters.
Tripathi says his STPs are only equipped for primary treatment of the waste water.
MCD plans to put meat waste to good use
NEW DELHI: More than 250 metric tonnes of meat waste is collected in Delhi and dumped in a landfill site at Ghazipur.
But the Delhi municipal corporation now plans to set up a plant which will convert the waste into chicken feed and other products.
A senior official said the corporation will soon issue tenders inviting applications from company to set up a plant. "This plant will produce tallow oil (an important ingredient required in manufacture of soaps) and chicken feed," the MCD official.
Any organic waste rotting under the sun and rainfall is harmful for health. It produces leachate which leaks from the landfill to groundwater.
A study conducted by the National Environment Engineer Institute shows the saline content in groundwater near the landfill site is four times more than prescribed limits.
While vegetarian organic waste is being utilised for manufacturing compost, officials said meat waste could not be used for manure production.
"It has become a scavenging ground. We can't segregate meat waste," the official said.