For past two years, large scale mechanized and illegal mining is happening in Yamuna River in Haryana state. The miners have created deep pits across the riverbed in Yamuna Nagar, Karnal, Panipat and Sonipat districts. Year 2019 has been a deficit monsoon year in Yamuna basin and the river had started shrinking unusually during October month. The rampant riverbed excavation has further robbed it of lean season flows. This detailed overview of river sand mining in Haryana in 2019 shows the severe impact of unsustainable and illegal mining practices on the river and villagers due to insensitive government and inefficient administration.
Chances are higher that you find a CETP malfunctioning on repeated visits for same commonly made lame excuses. (Feature image 4 MLD Kundli CETP discharging effluents without any treatment into drain number 6, while drain number 8 flowing next to it. Image taken on May 11, 2019 by author)
“Oh my God, its unbearable” was the first expression came out of my mouth instinctively and instantly, while standing at the outlet of Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in Sonipat District, Haryana. The plant was located in Kundli Industrial Area along DN (Drain Number) 8 at Delhi Haryana border. It was the morning of May 11, 2019 while observing status of DN 6, along with my friend Yayati Bhardwaj.
DN 6 carries industrial and domestic effluents from a large area of Panipat and Sonipat districts while DN 8 supplies potable water to Delhi via Yamuna river. Both drains run parallel for a length of 10 km and more than often intermix due to breaches and spill-overs. To know more about this, see: Delhi’s Drinking Water is 9 inch Wall away from Toxic Industrial Effluents & Sewage.
Fisher-folks know a river better than most others. Fish diversity is unfailing indicator determining river health. Unfortunately given the pollution load and lack of fresh flowing water, the Delhi stretch of Yamuna river is biologically dead. Hence fishing activities are rare and not much is known about the current fishermen community.
Situation was better in the past. Many people still fondly recollect, memory of bathing in a pristinely flowing Yamuna in Delhi around 1970s. They also describe their narrative of enjoying plenty of fish variety. Elderly in Greater Noida even claim watching ‘Sush’ dolphin in the river during their childhood.
Now the river is in continual degradation. It gets some clean water during monsoon, when adjoining areas face flood threat.
(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.
Yamuna Basin: River Yamuna accounts for 7.10 % of the total geographical area of the country. The Haryana state forms 6.5% of the river basin. It drains an area of 366,223 square km in the Gangetic plain and constitutes 40.2% of Ganga Basin. The river annually carries 10,000 cubic billon meters (CBM) of water of with 4400 cbm is used for irrigation. Yamuna river basin forms the upper sub-basin of Ganga river the total area of which is 35798.19 square km comprising of 47 water sheds.
Yamuna river originates from Bandar Punch glacier in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakand. The river flows through about 200 kilometers before reaching Haryana State at Shivalik Hills in Yamuna Nagar district. In the same district the river is trapped in Hathini Kund Barrage located in Kalesar National Park.
Tomorrow on 12th April is Yamuna Jayanti the birth anniversary of River Yamuna. The festival is also known as Yamuna Chhath and is celebrated on Shashthi sixth day of Shukla Paksha in Chaitra month that falls during Navratri. The auspicious day commemorates the decent of Goddess Yamuna on Earth and is therefore celebrated with great pomp and show in the city of Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh.
While thousands of devotees and dependents seek Yamuna’s blessing and wish the river to flow eternally and keep providing sustenance and livelihoods to millions on the occasion to celebrate the day SANDRP has managed to collect the latest pictures of the River all through its entire 1376km length right from Yamnotri the origin place till it merges into Ganga at Allahbad. The pictorial report clearly shows the bleak future of the river which is also the largest tributary of our national river the Ganga.
Yamuna River from Hathini Kund Barrage to Delhi (All maps from Google Earth, created by author)
A field trip along the Yamuna River this April 2015 showed how the river is killed blow by blow, by the pollution and diversion. The visit was planned with an objective to study and observe actual status of industrial and domestic pollution reaching River Yamuna via various Escapes and Drains in Haryana, upstream Delhi. A team of two members Sri Manoj Misra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan and Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP spent three days (03-05 April 2015) closely travelling along the river through four districts of Haryana (Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal and Yamuna Nagar) and tracking various drains, escapes (from origin) which pour massive amount of effluents in River Yamuna . Continue reading “Blow by Blow, how pollution kills the Yamuna river: A Field Trip Report”