(Feature image by Nishant Panwar, Vikas Nagar, shows Yamuna River in upper reaches in Jan. 2019)
On April 11, 2019, is the birthday of Yamuna river. The Yamuna Jayanti comes every year on the sixth day of ‘Chaitra’ (summer) Navratra. The Kapat (door) of famous Yamnotri shrine would be opened this year on May 7 for Char Dham Yatra.
In April-May 2019 India will vote to elect 17th Lok Sabha or Parliament. On April 11, the 1st of the 7 polling days, the home state of Yamuna river, Uttrakhand and the districts of Western Uttar Pradesh through which Yamuna river flows, will vote.
The two other states heavily dependent and Yamuna river, Haryana and Delhi will see voting on May 12. The district Mathura, Agra, Etawa, Kanpur, Hamirpur, Fatehpur and Allahabad of Uttar Pradesh located along Yamuna river will witness voting from second (April 18) to sixth phase on May 12.
The NDA government come to power in May 2014 promising clean Ganga and Yamuna. The thousands of devotees of Mathura and residents of Agra were especially convinced of a promise of clean flowing Yamuna river. People were also hopeful that the government of the same party, BJP, in centre and in key basin states of Yamuna (Uttarakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh) would bring a change in the situation. But over the five years, things have only deteriorated further. In fact, under the present government apart from dams and pollution a illegal sand mining has emerged as equally dangerous threat for the Yamuna rivers from upper reaches through middle and lower stretches.
On the occasion of Yamuna Jayanti, the Yamuna Nadi Mitra Mandli (YNMM) a voluntary group of villagers and concerned; established along the length of Yamuna by Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan is highlighting the issues affecting the Yamuna river and riparian communities which have remained unaddressed during past five years and none of the political parties even now have remotely focused on these. They also warn that ignoring the problems of Yamuna and dependent community will soon affect every state and dependent people in a significant way apart from endangering the river itself.
The release of around 1.31 lakh cusecs of water in Yamuna from Hathnikund barrage at 09:00 hours on July 26, 2018, was certainly first surge of flood this monsoon in the river. But no one expected, most are still in the dark that the release would multiply by over five times in just two days! It is almost a month after the Southwest monsoon arrived. By this time the river usually floods couples of times.
Looking at the lack of significant rainfall in the catchment area over past weeks, the flood is unexpected and has taken many by surprise. The Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Delhi Government has issued warning for flood plain farmers and human settlements close to river banks, but the warning does not seem to commensurate with the flood peak that is likely to hit the capital in next day or two.
Yamuna has already crossed warning (204 m) and danger level (204.83) at Old Delhi Railway Bridge (ORB), Delhi. The High Flood Level is 207.49 meters, reached on Sept 6,1978 after around 7 lakh cusecs (cubic feet per second) water was released in Yamuna on 3rd Sept 1978 at 04:00 hrs from Tajewala barrage, that was decommissioned and replaced by Hathnikund barrage in early 1990s. The flood monitoring of River Yamuna began in 1963.
Since then, the river has seen high floods in 1988, 1995, 2010 and 2013. The 2010 and 2013 floods also crossed 207 metres mark but fell short of 1978 level.
Every year on the sixth day of summer Navratra the birthday of Yamuna river is celebrated. This year it was on 23 March 2018. On this occasion, SANDRP has prepared a photo blog covering almost entire length of the river. The Yamuna Mitra Mandali (YNMM) (Friends of Yamuna River) group established by Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has essential contributed for this pictorial blog.
The photo blog tries to show the present day situation of river Yamuna and activities of YNMM on the day of Yamuna Jayanti.
Yamuna River is infamous as one of the most polluted rivers of the country. A mere thought of Yamuna, brings the picture of a stinking black water course, in the mind of most of the concerned. But the initial 26 km of the River in Delhi from Palla upto Wazirabad Barrage presents a totally different Yamuna.
Unlike the city part, the river here has clean flowing water. Natural vegetations can be seen standing tall along still inviolate banks. Sighting of riparian birds in good number offers great solace from robotic city life. Few in-know of this secret, go fishing here during leisure and weekends. Farming activities on adjoining lands adds rustic charm to the panorama. If this is not enough, nearby floriculture strips, turns the riverbank colourful.
The river water is bathing quality. Many fresh water birds flock around. Herders take out cattle. Fishermen catch fish. Boatmen ferry visitors on demand. Devotees bath in the river and say prayers. Farmers remain busy with cultivation.
Annual flood marks are visible. It replenishes ground water and enriches the soil. Floodplains are still spared of concretization. All this contributes to make the river live and lovely.
At least since 1994, ever increasing pollution of River Yamuna had ballooned into a national concern, with Supreme Court of India taking up the case of Mailee Yamuna. The authorities lacked a holistic view of a river system. Essential issues like unhindered flow and intact floodplain were seldom discussed and debated. Thus, cleaning of pollution through infrastructure and technologies had become the central theme of saving Yamuna River. As a result, the cleaning efforts got no success and Yamuna River health kept worsening.
Amid this scenario, a group of Delhi citizens in 2006 woke up to impact of a 10 days shopping event to be organized on annual basis in the floodplain of Yamuna River at Delhi- Noida, Uttar Pradesh border. The event faced criticism and was resultantly called off.
But the incident just proved a tip of iceberg for the concerned group who after sometimes came across a list of permanent and commercial structures, being proposed within ecologically valuable and sensitive floodplains of River Yamuna in Delhi as a part of Common Wealth Games 2010.
The prevailing ignorance towards importance of floodplains of River Yamuna in Delhi and blatant encroachment of it, led to formalization of the group into Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (YJA) on 07 February 2007.
In new year 2016, State Government of Uttarakhand must act against burgeoning amount of solid and liquid waste being put in Yamuna River in its home land.
River Yamuna appears flowing pollution and waste free in Himalayan stretch. But close observations go against this popular notion and paints grim picture of huge amount of waste finding its way in the river on a daily basis. This account highlights the issue in detail and urges State Govt. of Uttarakhand (UK) to take remedial actions before it is too late to reverse the degradation of the River.
Yamnotri is famous shrine and thousands of pilgrims and tourists frequent the place during Char-Dham Yatra held every year. These visitors, in absence of better options or for hygienic reasons prefer using bottled water, packaged foods (biscuits, snacks) and plastic disposals as food servings. As a result solid waste in massive amount is generated through the pilgrimage season which ultimately goes into the holy river. It’s worrying that this has become a norm for past many years.
A 75 feet wide breach on right bank of Yamuna Augmentation Canal (AC) has drowned vast agricultural land area belonging to three villages of Alahar, Palewala and Nachron falling under Radaur block of Yamuna Nagar district, Haryana.
The breach reportedly occurred about 14 km downstream Hamida Head on Western Jamuna Canal (WJC) in Yamuna Nagar district around 03:00 am on 12th of April 2015. From all accounts, it seems like an avoidable manmade disaster about which credible independet inquiry alone can help arrive at truth. Continue reading “Yamuna Augmentation Canal Breach – Man-made Disaster?”→