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Yamuna Pollution Worsens: A Tale of Broken Promises and Environmental Neglect

Yamuna Pollution Crisis: Delhi's Chief Minister Struggles to Fulfill Promises, as Pollution Takes a Heavy Toll on Health and Environment, Leaving the City in Dire Need of Remedies

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while campaigning for the Delhi elections, had made bold promises to clean the Yamuna River, pledging to take a dip in its clean waters before the next elections. However, two years have passed since that commitment, and the once-pristine Yamuna is now ensnared by pollution, with toxic foam floating on its surface. Despite lofty promises and rhetoric, the authorities have often overlooked Yamuna pollution crisis.

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Delhi residents express their growing concerns over the deteriorating state of the Yamuna. Papan Kashyap, a resident, laments, "Yamuna pollution is increasing day by day, and the authorities never step in to stop it. Yamuna is becoming extremely polluted, affecting both residents and the cattle that rely on its water".

Surender Kumar, another Delhi resident, highlights the poor water quality, saying, "Shaheen Bhag, Okhla, and Jamia—water from all these drains—flows into Yamuna. The government should implement proper drain systems to ensure only clean water enters Yamuna. It's high time the government puts an end to Yamuna pollution".

The Yamuna River, stretching 1,376 kilometres from its source in the Himalayas through multiple states, is now plagued by a concerning blend of sewage and industrial waste. Piyush Mohapatra, Senior Programme Coordinator at Toxics Link, points out the alarming levels of pollution, stating, "We tested water sediments of Yamuna River and found high toxic contents, heavy metals, and mercury in the water".

The pollution crisis in the Yamuna is not a recent development. For decades, the river has suffered from the dumping of toxic chemicals and untreated sewage. Successive governments have made lofty promises during elections, only to neglect meaningful action afterward.

Bhim Singh Rawat, Associate Coordinator at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People (SANDRP), emphasises the importance of maintaining the river's flow. He says, "As long as Yamuna's flow is not maintained, problems will persist. The upper regions of Delhi face unsustainable mechanised mining, damaging the river during lean seasons. Polluted water from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh further exacerbates the crisis."

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In Delhi, a staggering 792 million gallons per day (MGD) of sewer water are generated, but only 550 MGD undergo treatment in Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs). The remaining 242 MGD of untreated sewer water is discharged directly into the Yamuna River. The National Green Tribunal has criticised the lack of action, deeming it "extremely disappointing."

Diwan Singh, an environmentalist, expresses his disappointment, saying, "Schemes costing over 3200 crores were implemented in Delhi. Yet, dirty water continues to flow into Yamuna, surpassing the treatment plants' capacity. The river needs clean water and conservation, not just empty electoral promises".

While the government consistently asserts in its media interactions that it is doing its utmost to clean up the Yamuna, the on-ground reality tells a starkly different tale. Despite the promises and reassurances, Yamuna pollution continues to deteriorate, with pollutants and untreated sewage unabatedly flowing into its waters. As Delhiites emphatically assert, the time for action is now; mere rhetoric and empty pledges fall far short in restoring the Yamuna to its former glory.

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