28.03.2011 (TOI): Any hope of seeing a clean Yamuna in the near future were dispelled on Sunday by environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who said such a situation was not possible before at least the end of 2015.
The minister, who carried out an inspection of the river on Sunday morning and followed up with a meeting with the chief ministers of Delhi and Haryana, said the interceptor sewage system project that was being implemented by Delhi Jal Board would take some time to come up and that in the meantime there were no other ways to stop the flow of untreated sewage into the river.
“By 2015-end I can say with confidence that no untreated sewage will flow into the river. Of Yamuna’s 1,375km, Delhi’s stretch of 22km is the most polluted. The city’s problem has been the massive unauthorized growth, because of which about 65% of the city area is not covered by sewer system. The interceptor sewage system is only an interim measure, and it is the only option we had. What is most important is that DJB sewers all areas,” said Ramesh.
Delhi’s sewage generation is about 3,200 million liters per day. Its treatment capacity is 2,300mld, and 1,500mld reaches the treatment plants. Of this, the actual treatment is far less. The trunk sewers are settled and a massive process to repair them is on. By August this year, 150km of trunk sewers will be rehabilitated.
The review meeting with the CMs saw discussion on two major points that included the problem of ammonia pollution because of which Delhi has had to shut down its water treatment plants on several occasions and pollution on the stretch of river passing through Delhi. While Haryana has been mandated to supply drinking quality water to Delhi, the capital is expected to release irrigation quality water at Okhla. Both conditions are not met at present.
“We have three main points before us. Continuous monitoring of water quality has to be carried out at interstate borders. For Delhi and Haryana, three such places have been identified. A real time online water quality monitoring system is already installed at Wazirabad and two more have to be installed – one at Palla and another at Badarpur where the Yamuna re-enters Haryana from Delhi. This will immediately pin the blame on the polluter,” said Ramesh.
He added that a major part of the problem is pollution at Panipat. “The sewage treatment capacity at Panipat is insufficient. Haryana needs a plant with a capacity to treat 21mld. It has a capacity of 16mld so far and it is underutilized.
On the common effluent treatment plants front, of the 512 units that have to be connected only 52 have been connected so far. For this, the ministry of environment and forests has decided to pitch in and provide financial assistance to Haryana under its national river conservation programme to augment its sewage treatment capacity. Haryana will develop a proposal for it shortly,” he said.
It was also decided that an STP is needed at Panipat drain’s mouth so that the day to day problem of ammonia pollution can be curbed.
Under the Yamuna Action Plan-III, the cabinet is expected to approve a sum of Rs 1,400 crore to modernize existing sewage network in Delhi. The project is being funded by the Japanese government and Rs 250 crore will be spent additionally by Delhi government.
“There are 26 drains that are emptying over 60% of Delhi’s untreated sewage into the Yamuna directly and we will have to review the progress periodically. DJB is also planning a 100% sewage treatment system under its sewage master plan but that also will happen only by 2020,” added Ramesh.
During his boat ride along the Yamuna, Ramesh took note of various illegal activities taking place along the banks that included cattle bathing, washing of vehicles and farming for which water was being extracted illegally from the river and also being polluted due to massive use of pesticides. ” Delhi Pollution Control Committee will be given directions to take action on both sides of the river to remove illegal settlements and stop illegal activities,” said Ramesh.
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