Young boys swim in the Yamuna river in Delhi city.
The Yamuna, sometimes called Jamuna or Jumna, is the largest tributary river of the Ganges (Ganga) in northern India. It crosses several states, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, passing by Himachal Pradesh and later Delhi, and meets several of its tributaries on the way, including Tons, its largest and longest tributary in Uttarakhand, Chambal, which has its own large basin, followed by Sindh, the Betwa, and Ken. Most importantly it creates the highly fertile alluvial, Yamuna-Ganges Doab region between itself and the Ganges in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Nearly 57 million people depend on the Yamuna waters. The source of Yamuna lies in the Yamunotri Glacier at a height 6,387 metres, on the south western slopes of Banderpooch peaks, which lie in the Mussoorie range of Lower Himalayas, in the Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand, north of Haridwar. Yamunotri temple, a shrine dedicated to the goddess, Yamuna is one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism, and part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra circuit.
In 1909 the waters of the Yamuna were distinguishable as “clear blue”, as compared to the silt-laden yellow of the Ganges. However, due to high density population growth and rapid industrialization today Yamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, especially around New Delhi, the capital of India, which dumps about 58% of its waste into the river. New Delhi generates 1,900 million litre per day (MLD) of sewage. Though numerous attempts have been made to process it, the efforts have proven to be futile. Although the government of India has spent nearly $500 million to clean up the river, the Yamuna continues to be polluted with garbage while most sewage treatment facilities are underfunded or malfunctioning. In addition, the water in this river remains stagnant for almost nine months in a year, aggravating the situation.
Delhi alone contributes around 3,296 MLD of sewage in the river. The government of India over the next five years has prepared plans to rebuild and repair the sewage system and the drains that empty into the river. To address river pollution, certain measures of river cleaning have been taken by the Government’s Ministry of Environment and Forests in twelve towns of Haryana, eight towns of Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) which has been implemented since 1993 by the National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation is participating in the Yamuna Action Plan in 15 of the above 21 towns (excluding 6 towns of Haryana included later on the direction of Supreme Court of India) with soft loan assistance of 17.773 billion Japanese Yen (Rs. 700 crore INR) while the Government of India is providing the funds for the remaining 6 towns added later. In 2007 the Indian government’s plans to repair sewage lines were predicted to improve the water quality of the river 90% by the year 2010.
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