The Tale of Yamuna River & pollution : Limelight

Yamuna river polluted


Yamuna river a long time ago, there was a heart that used to pulsate in Delhi. Years down the line, its nerves were stifled and now only contamination runs in its veins. Once a free flowing river, Yamuna river has been reduced to a sluggish existence. In the name of ‘development’, we have destroyed the very ‘lifeline’ of our city. This is the story of a toxic river where untreated sewage, chemical and industrial waste, religious waste mixed with harmful fertilizers and pesticides, sucked the life out of it.



Yamuna River sets out from Himachal Pradesh to Uttarakhand, where the stream is redirected into a channel for power generation. It reaches Poatna Sahib and goes down to Haryana, where the stream is again redirected for irrigation purposes. Toxicants enter the river through fertilizers and pesticides. The flow of water is restricted through Wazirabad Barrage, from where it goes to treatment plant and is utilized for drinking purposes. Water supply in Delhi through River Yamuna is 850MGD, but the water demand in the city is 1100MGD. Indeed, even subsequent to halting almost the whole stream of water, Delhi is unable to fulfill its water request. From Delhi, a small piece of Yamuna water, along with sewage dilutes, industrial waste water and waste from nulaahs and drains goes to Agra. The central Pollution control board says that out of Yamuna’s 22Km stretch in Delhi, which is barely 2%, Delhi contributes 70% of the aggregate contamination load. The stream is again tapped at Okhla barrage, where it is redirected and utilized for irrigational purposes. Once again, the river is contaminated through sewage water coming from Shahadra drain. By ceasing and occupying the normal stream of water and disposing our waste in the waterway, we have done an irreversible damage to the river.


We have got a taste of our own medicines, our activities against nature have backfired and whether its plants, animals or human beings, everyone will have to bear the dire consequences.

With zero dissolved oxygen, the aquatic life in River Yamuna is non-existent. The thick foam formed due to various toxicants does not allow sunlight to reach the bottom of the river and therefore aquatic plants are unable to survive.

Farmers use Yamuna water for irrigational purposes. Therefore, the food that we eat contains harmful metals such as lead and nickel. Chemical pollution through Fluoride, mercury and arsenic leads to chemical pollution. All these toxicants are hazardous to human health.

Pollution and dirt amounts to biological poisoning through bacteria and virus, giving rise to diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid and Jaundice.


Water wastage, water pollution and an overgrowing population are the three main culprits for the plight of our rivers.

It is necessary to conserve water and its demand at the same time. Simple techniques such as rain water harvesting should be adopted. There is a need to regulate industrial use of water and keep a check on their consumption. Sewage treatment plants must be installed before releasing water into the river bodies.

We seriously need to question our priorities, How will we survive if the air that we breathe, the water that we drink and the food that we eat is a deadly poison, that will ultimately take us towards our death.


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