In the early 20th century the Yamuna waters were described as clear blue. However, due to high-density of population and rapid industrialization today the Yamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, especially around New Delhi, the capital of India. Only 2% of the river length flows through Delhi between Wazirabad and Okhla yet the city contributes about 76% of the total pollution load in the river.
Sewage and industrial effluent is discharged into Delhi’s drainage system. It ends up in the river or percolates into the ground. The National Green Tribunal has issued a slew of directions and has levied environmental compensation on Departments and Agencies that have failed to provide proper sewage and industrial effluent treatment plants before releasing treated water into the drains and water bodies. A huge proportion of Delhi residents live in unplanned colonies which have no sewage systems or even where sewage networks exist have refused to take connections. Many household industries which are prohibited from carrying out industrial activities are discharging effluent into the drains. In additions, tons of construction waste (malba) is dumped into the drains and the river and enforcement action has not been taken by the authorities who have a supervisory responsibility.
Courtesy: DJB, Centre for Science & Environment, SANDRP, MC’s own pictures