Yamuna Jayanti the birthday of Yamuna river is celebrated every year on sixth day of summer Navratri. This year the day occurred on Sunday, April 18. On this occasion, Yamuna Nadi Mitra Mandlis [NMM (Friends of Yamuna River groups)] from all along the river through pics, videos share the latest updates on the issues affecting the river health and riverine community’s wellbeing. They also celebrate the river for its innumerable/ services and carry out activities to draw the attention of concerned governments and public at large towards gradual decline in river’s health.
This year due to Covid 19 pandemic and resultant restrictions, they could not organize public gatherings and undertake river related activities as usual, however they have shared some relevant pictures and videos depicting present status of River Yamuna which are presented here.
1. Landslide debris has blocked Bhaneli stream a tributary Yamuna river enroute Yamntri shrine. The images were taken about a week ago by reporter Omkar Bahuguna. He says that the landslide has occurred in September 2020 and present a threat to downstream areas during monsoon season.
2. River Yamuna at Gangani small hydro power plant at Kharadi, Uttarkashi. There is now a significant fall in water flow and most of the water is being diverted into hydro channel, as a result there is negligible flow in river for next three kilometres.
Currently the Chardham Road widening project is going on and most of road widening debris are reaching the river as the temporary arrangements in the form of protection walls even where built, are proving insufficient. Images by Jagmohan Bartwal, Kharadi on April 17-18.
On account of low rainfall and snowfall in the catchment, there is significant decline in water flow in the river. On April 17 evening, the area received mild rains after months bringing some relief from rising temperature and forest fires.
3. The scenic beauty of Yamuna river at Naugaon, Uttarkashi. At this location the river is joined by a Kamalganga a tributary. The river is also rich in aquatic life. The images of Apr 17-18 are shared by Tilak Ramola.
He has also shared pics of common snow trout and golden mahseer fish which were caught from the river around Holi in March. As per Ramola, like Aglar, there used to be traditional fishing fair in Kamalganga in past which has been forgotten now for various reasons. Recently the river stretch has also been opened for stone mining and crushing activities.
4. River Yamuna at Katapathar, Dehradun. At this location the work of 120 Mw Vyasi HEP is going on for over a decade. The muck dump sites are sitting very close to river flows and large amount of muck has washed away gradually. To meet the construction material demand for the project large part of riverbed has been mined unsustainably. The stone crushers in the area have been causing significant noise and dust pollution adversely affecting villagers’ health. Images shared by Praveen Tomar, Katapathar on April 18.
As per locals, on Friday, April 16, 2021, a labourer working in Vyasi project fell to his death at Hathiyari the location of power station. They allege lack of adequate safety gears and the work has reportedly been stopped since then.
In Dakpathar, the Yamuna Eco Scholars of Rainbow Children Academy had organized paiting completion on impact of solid waste on aquatic life in March 2020. Here are few paintings as shared by Nishant Panwar.
5. Yamuna river at Kanalsi, Yamuna Nagar (Haryana). The village is situated close to confluence of Somb and Yamuna river. The location is downstream of Hathini Kund Barrage from where over 90 percent flow is diverted into canals and the river suffers lack of flow.
On the occasion of Yamuna Jayanti some village kids, women reached the river with placards demanding halt in rampant sand mining activities in the area. They worshiped the river for it services and also had a bath in the river.
They also found instream mechanized mining in the river which is against the norms and alerted the concerned officials about this. Images shared by Kiran Pal Rana, Kanalsi and Sanjay Kamboj, Bhogpur village on April 18.
6. The cumulative impact of low rainfall and increasing mining has robbed the river of flows and minerals in upper segment. As a result, the Yamuna river has started trickling in Kairana area of Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh. Villagers feel the river would turn dry by the end of April 2021. The brazen mining activities have also been impacting the livelihoods of fishermen and riverbed farmers. Images shared by Ahsan Saifi on April 18.
A little downstream, the drain number 2 dumps huge amount of domestic and industrial effluents from Panipat into the Yamuna river at Khojkipur. The image was shared last month by Balraj Bapoli.
7. The Yamuna river in Sonipat. The flow is gone. The water temperature is increasing. There are point and non-point pollution sources affecting river health. The situation has turned alarming for fisher folks who report losses due to untimely death of young fish. Videos shared by Ram Sahni a fish contractor staff on April 17.
8. There is no improvement in drain number six polluting drain number 8 which carries Delhi’s potable water at Delhi Haryan border. SANDRP has written about the issue more than once in past. The image shared by Shiv Gulia on April 17 shows that the respective agencies of Haryana and Delhi have taken no steps to resolve the issue.
9. River Yamuna around Palla has ceased to flow as seen in the images taken by Yayati Bhardwaj on April 18. Locals are able to cross the river by foot. In water pools the painted stroke and an egret can be seen foraging. The location is upstream of Wazirabad barrage.
10. In Delhi, the river is turned into a big stinking drain which hardly supports any aquatic life. Images shared by Chaini, a floodplain farmer on April 17.
11. In Greater Noida, the polluted Hindon further deteriorates the river health. The pollution of both rivers has also been adversely affecting villagers’ health and groundwater table. Pictures shared by Hukum Singh on April 17.
12. River Yamuna in Oba at the outskirt of Mathura full with upstream pollution load. Images by Rameshwar, April 18.
13. In the polluted state, the river reaches Gokul where the water is diverted for irrigation and Mathura refinery supply purposes through Gokul barrage. The locals say there is decrease in downstream flows from the barrage. A local drain is falling into the river there.
The irrigation department has also dumped boulders on riverbank about which locals are clueless. Pictures shared by Nakul on April 17. It is also reported that treated water from refinery administration in large amount is being filled into a vacate piece of land instead of river.
14. At Gadaya in Mathura the river continues to flow in polluted state. The location is downstream Mathura refinery. Villagers say despite promise, the refinery pollution has not been tapped. Images shared by Dau ji on April 18.
15. The situation is similar in Bateshwar in Agra. Here Siyanch village youths appealing to save the river. Pictures by Vikas Yadav shared on April 18.
16. In Itawah, when Chambal meets the Yamuna, the river channel becomes wider and it gets revived. Sindh, Pahunch, Kuwari other three rivers also meet Yamuna here hence the place is known as Pachnanda confluence of five rivers.
The area is also facing large scale sand mining activities. Images taken a week ago by Veer Chandra, Panchnada shared on April 18. The ravine reclamation works and growing demand for Chambal water diversion projects are other significant threats looming on rivers system in the area.
Due to pandemic restriction and health issues, the NMMs of Agra, Hamirpur and Ekdla in Allahabad could not organize Yamuna Jayanti activities. For same reasons, other NMMs could not celebrate the Yamuna Jayanti as they had planned. The images above are shared by Udaybhan on April 19 from Hamirpur district before Betwa joins the Yamuna river. There seems decline in overall flow in the river due to low rainfall in catchment during monsoon and winter months.
However, they have shared enough images, videos revealing the present status of Yamuna and issues concerning river’s health. Indeed, due to low rainfall and snowfall the river has seen reduction in flowing water in Himalayan segment.
The water abstraction and non-stop mining in Shivalik and upper segment has been turning the mighty water course into a seasonal stream. The pollution load in Delhi and downstream areas has only gone up affecting overall wellbeing of riverine communities throughout its middle stretch.
The only respite the river has is in lower segment where it is fed by Chambal, Betwa and Ken river system.
The Covid 19 pandemic situation is turning serious. The Yamuna NMMs wish all river people to stay safe. Hope the crisis would make all of us contemplate seriously on the human activities taking a toll on our rivers health and ask the respective governments for a course correction. Happy Yamuna Jayanti 2021.
Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)