Report on Yamuna, the poisoned river
Tata Energy Research Institute
The river Yamuna, the lifeline of Delhi, is gradually dying. Rampant industrial pollution and untreated sewage is choking the river. Despite government norms, the sewage treatment plants continue to be underutilized. The city generates 650 million gallons of sewage per day against an installed capacity of 512 million gallons. But only 350 million gallons of sewage reaches the treatment plants. A deadline of 2012 has been set to ensure no untreated sewage goes into the river. Efforts are also on to check the pollution levels from the neighbouring state of Haryana.
The seriousness of the contamination was highlighted in a study undertaken by TERI. It showed how despite government efforts industrial effluents and untreated sewage continue to choke the river. In fact, the toxins have polluted the ground water and soil. It has entered our food chain through the vegetables grown on the banks and continues to affect the people living on the banks.
Agricultural field on the banks of River Yamuna
As part of the study, water samples were taken from 13 locations, every 2 km from the Wazirabad barrage and covered a stretch of 22 km of the river Yamuna flowing through Delhi. Soil samples were collected from agricultural fields on the Yamuna flood plains at different depths – 15, 25, 60 cm a well as 250 and 500 meter away from the river, to study the exposure levels of plants at different root lengths. Similar samples were also collected from Dayalpur and Chandawali villages in the Ballabgarh district of Haryana, 25 km from the Delhi to judge the extent of contamination.