INDIA VOTES 2024 Poll Issues: Delhi residents fret over Yamuna pollution, seek govt action : The Tribune India

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INDIA VOTES 2024 Poll Issues: Delhi residents fret over Yamuna pollution, seek govt action

BJP’s Malhotra outlines river cleaning project as part of 100-day roadmap

INDIA VOTES 2024 Poll Issues: Delhi residents fret over Yamuna pollution, seek govt action

Toxic foam covers the Yamuna at ITO barrage. PHOTO: MUKESH AGGARWAL



Tribune News Service

Anshita Mehra

New Delhi, April 3

As the 18th Lok Sabha elections draw near, the pollution of the Yamuna river resurfaces as a central campaign issue. Despite being a longstanding concern and a recurring promise in political agendas over the years, the persistent pollution of the Yamuna persists unabated, raising questions about the effectiveness of past efforts and the credibility of future pledges.

Political parties have made assurances for years to tackle the Yamuna’s pollution, yet tangible results have remained elusive despite repeated promises.

Over the past nine years, the AAP has held the reins in the Capital, implementing numerous plans to cleanse the river, but significant improvements are yet to materialise. According to the data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, the water quality of the Yamuna continues to exhibit elevated levels of biological oxygen demand (BOD) and a notable presence of faecal coliform.

BOD measures the amount of oxygen consumed by bacteria and microorganisms during the decomposition of organic matter in aerobic conditions. Faecal coliform bacteria, conversely, signal water contamination with faecal material from humans or animals, potentially carrying pathogens and disease-causing agents.

In 2021, the Kejriwal government unveiled a six-point plan aimed at restoring the Yamuna river to bathing standards by February 2025. The plan entails the construction of new sewage treatment plants, expansion of existing facilities and the cessation of industries discharging waste into the river. Furthermore, efforts are in progress to link wastewater from “jhuggi jhopri” clusters to the sewer network and provide household connections in areas with the existing infrastructure.

Even during the Budget session of 2023-2024, the issue of Yamuna pollution was addressed. However, allegations surfaced in November of the same year, with Lieutenant-Governor VK Saxena, purportedly accusing the government of ceasing river cleaning efforts. He criticised the Delhi government for the high pollution levels in the Yamuna and accused it of manipulating the Supreme Court to alter a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order during ongoing improvements. He asserted, “The Delhi government has halted the river cleaning process.”

In contrast, during this year’s Delhi budget announcement by Finance Minister Atishi, there was no mention of Yamuna pollution.

While neither the AAP nor the BJP has released their manifestos for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, BJP candidate from east Delhi seat Harsh Malhotra has outlined Yamuna cleanliness and riverfront development as part of his 100-day roadmap.

He expressed concern, stating that cleaning the Yamuna and developing a riverfront from northeast to east Delhi would be a priority if elected.

Jagrati, a resident living near the Yamuna, described the unpleasant smell near the river due to pollution and waste thrown into it. She said, “The smell when you cross the river is horrific because of the pollution and waste that the people throw into the river. It’s horrific to see a river of such high religious prominence in the country being polluted by the people and the political parties not doing anything about it.”

The Yamuna holds religious significance for many, but it is polluted by harmful chemical waste from industries and waste from humans. This pollution particularly affects the Bihari community, who celebrate the Chhath Puja along the riverbank, as it conflicts with their religious beliefs. A member of the Bihari community, Aakansha, expressed, “The polluted river hurts our religious beliefs as well.”

Although some people blame devotees celebrating the puja for contributing to the pollution, Shivaram Pandey, president of the Delhi Chhath Puja Samiti, clarified that Chhath celebrations were not responsible for Yamuna pollution.

The pollution of the Yamuna remains a significant concern for Delhiites, who hope that political promises will lead to concrete actions to restore the river’s health. With elections approaching, the fate of the Yamuna’s cleanup hangs in the balance, while residents continue to suffer from its pollution.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

#BJP #Environment #Lok Sabha #Pollution


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