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The Contaminated Yamuna– World’s Most Polluted River

Anushree Ghosh

The mighty Yamuna originates from Yamunotri, crosses the urban complex of Delhi, the revered land called Braj, and the greatest symbol of romance- Taj Mahal, to unite with the Ganges in Allahabad. The sacred confluence then navigates through the holy city of Banaras, to eventually be a part of the Bay of Bengal. The river which was once considered the fluid form of love is now contaminated by the constituents of unhealthy practices.

Many years ago, the Yamuna was the support system of Delhi, ruled by the Mughals,“ Monuments like Red Fort, were aligned on the banks of Yamuna. The beauty resided in the reflective eyes of the river. The point in history that can be marked for the beginning of distortion of the Yamuna, began with the unplanned establishment of Delhi by the British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. They never built the city from an ecological perspective.

Today, the Yamuna’s highly polluted state is a matter of great concern. It is the most polluted river in India. The overgrowing population has changed the composition of the clear blue water of the river. Industrial disposals in Haryana initiate the contamination process, followed by Delhi’s sewage disposal, domestic waste, garbage disposal, and mushrooming growth of water hyacinth in the river further worsens the condition.

A clear layer of pollutants covers the river in Uttar Pradesh, making it difficult to spot its existence. At some stretches, one can find white froth masking the river surface which looks like icebergs. This is the chemical wastes from the factories, manufacturing goods like leather.

A 2011 survey published by ‘National Public Radio’ on May 11, 2016, says: “By the time the Yamuna exits Delhi, it is lethal. The water contains a concentration of 1.1 billion fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. The standard for bathing is 500 coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters.”

  • Central Pollution Board

Under the Yamuna Action Plan by the government, crores have been spent on sewage treatment plants. However, it hardly improved the condition.

This has also led to the death of aquatic life in the river and affected the agricultural products that are dependent on the Yamuna for irrigation. The drinking water in Delhi is found to be unfit for consumption and even harmful at

Environmentalists and activists have raised their issue with marches and peaceful protests, with campaigns like ‘Yamuna Bachao Aandolan’ but to everyone’s despair, no substantial actions were ever taken. The Yamuna has already become a large drain and is on high alert. Now, the onus lies on the government as well as on the citizens by creating awareness and executing the laws forcefully to prevent further contamination. Otherwise, the doom’s day would come much faster than what is expected. Maybe, we are not realising the gravity of the situation from the comfort of our AC rooms, but ultimately water is the basic necessity, without which the comfort cannot sustain for long.

Anushree is a versatile writer, theatre actress with an immense passion for any form of art. Her blogs will take you through the different horizons of infracultural stories.

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