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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

More freshwater, fewer pollutants behind Yamuna’s new blue hues

Jal Board officials told The Indian Express that throughout March and so far in April, a significant amount of water has been consistently released into the river after the Wazirabad Barrage, as states through which the Yamuna passes saw good rainfall last month.

Written by Shivam Patel | New Delhi |
Updated: April 7, 2020 11:45:38 am
yamuna, clean yamuna water, yamuna water pollution, clean yamuna drive, delhi coronavirus lockdown, coronavirus india news, Ganga water, The Yamuna near the Wazirabad Barrage. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

Higher share of freshwater being released into the Yamuna, and a pause on industrial effluents due to the coronavirus lockdown, has seemingly improved the quality of the river in the city.

Jal Board officials told The Indian Express that throughout March and so far in April, a significant amount of water has been consistently released into the river after the Wazirabad Barrage, as states through which the Yamuna passes saw good rainfall last month. Figures taken by officials from the Wazirabad Barrage showed that on March 17, more than 17,000 cusecs of water was released downstream, which reduced to over 4,000 cusecs by March 27. On April 1, it was 8,000 cusecs. On Monday, it was around 4,000 cusecs.

A senior DJB official said, “There are two major factors behind this. We are releasing more water downstream of Wazirabad, and, after the lockdown was enforced in Delhi, industries have stopped functioning which also stopped flow of harmful chemicals into the river. The major reason is that there is more freshwater being released into the river.”

yamuna, clean yamuna water, yamuna water pollution, clean yamuna drive, delhi coronavirus lockdown, coronavirus india news, Ganga water, A view of the Yamuna river from DND.

The quantity of water released from the Barrage recently is often unseen during summer, including April, when there is little or no fresh water flowing downstream of Wazirabad due to scarcity.

Also Read | ‘Never saw Yamuna so clean before’: Images of blue waters in river go viral amid lockdown

Haryana’s irrigation and water resources department releases water into the Yamuna from the Hathnikund Barrage which flows down to Delhi. An official from the department said, “This (current) water availability is due to constant rainfall and limited demand for water in view of the lockdown and crop harvesting season.”

The Yamuna flows for 54 km in Delhi, between Palla and Badarpur. Water drawn from the river for supply to the city is taken before the Wazirabad Barrage. After this, a 22-km stretch till Okhla — roughly 2% of the river’s total length — accounts for a major share of its pollution.

During non-monsoon months, in the absence of fresh water below Wazirabad, the only flow in the river is from treated and untreated sewage through a number of drains connected to it. Experts have said maintaining a certain flow in the river is essential for its rejuvenation.

yamuna, clean yamuna water, yamuna water pollution, clean yamuna drive, delhi coronavirus lockdown, coronavirus india news, Ganga water, Yamuna, near Wazirabad Barrage.

Post the lockdown, the load of pollutants in wastewater going to sewage treatment plants (STPs) has also reduced — as per figures from an STP in Okhla, where authorities are using an advanced software called AACE-LIMS for assessment.

Also Read | Industries shut for lockdown, Ganga water quality improves

The biochemical oxygen demand, a gauge of organic pollution in water, of wastewater entering the STP came down from 228 mg/l on March 24 to 155 mg/l on April 3. Similarly, the quality of raw Yamuna water being used by the DJB has also seen an improvement, officials said, with concentration of chloride dropping considerably.

A monitoring panel set up by the NGT for rejuvenation of the Yamuna had asked the CPCB and DPCC to manually collect samples from the river and test them, taking help from authorities enforcing the lockdown.

This was done after posts on social media showed a relatively cleaner looking Yamuna near Kalindi Kunj recently. The bodies are expecting to release figures this week.

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