YAMUNA: The Sorrow of India?March 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm
Yamuna - a river that finds its mention in the Indian national anthem, but then isn't it surprising why a river? Not so much if you are an Indian and understand some bit of Indian culture. A country where many rivers are referred as 'mother', in this case as 'goddess Yamuna', and the country itself addressed as 'Mother India' or 'Bharat Mata', it's not strange. But what's alarming is the disrespect Indians have shown for themselves. Are we even aware?
A river which is the largest tributary river of the Ganges and flows across the states of Uttrakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and later Delhi finds itself ill treated by the very people who worship it. So much so that today the river can easily be referred to as the 'Sorrow of India', though for a reason different from China's Hwang Ho which is known as the 'Sorrow of China' because of devastating floods it brings along. It has become India's sorrow because of its shoddy state. The maximum damage to the river is done right at the heart of the nation, in the national capital Delhi, where 1270 mld (million litres per day) of untreated sewage is allowed to enter the river every day. While Yamuna's stretch is barely 22 km, it contributes approximately 70% of the pollution load. Delhi and Agra, taken together, account for 90% of the damage. Both domestic and industrial sources are involved in leading to destruction of the river.
In an effort to fix this, Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) was started way back in 1993 in cooperation with Japan government which provided India with 17.7 billion yen of financial aid and soft loan. It was decided to build a number of Drain Interceptors, Diversion Sewer Lines, Sewage Pumping Stations (PS), and Sewage Treatment Plants (STP). But in 18 years, we haven't seen any considerable infrastructure improvement to cater to the need of waste disposal. The pollution levels have only risen and that to an extent that sometimes it is not even referred as a river, rather as a 'Sewage drain'. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is found to 14 to 28 mg/l, way beyond the standards for a river to actually remain a river. In short, YAP failed. Today, their site www.yap.nic.in displays the message as 'Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)', which in essence shows that it has now seized to exist.
Its recent history is that in 2008 it was expected that the river will be cleaned before the commonwealth games which were held in Oct 2010. But some months before the event kicked off, Sheila Dixit, the Chief Minister of Delhi pulled off all efforts saying that they won't be able to deliver. When the campaign of cleaning Yamuna was started, she was seen on the front page of all the major newspapers picking up waste. But that's not what we could have been satisfied with, we needed results. But in spite of years into it with funds and machinery at its disposal, they have completely failed. It opens direct question on where have those thousands of crores gone?
We must say that India failed to put India before development. The industries were allowed to set-up plants in close proximity of the river without any process in place for waste disposal. Why were the economic costs of cleaning drives, unhygienic conditions and absence of one important source of water never considered? Put this question directly to the authorities, they won't have answer because no one is accountable to it. Many of those actually responsible by now may be burned or burried. Wonder what they got by such insensibility? They had to die someday and they have, but only after leaving the nation in total disarray. Hopefully, if there is something like rebirth, may they be reborn in slums right next to the 'goddess Yamuna'.
In the end, we again want to come back to Yamuna's presence in the national anthem. Do we have something like self respect? Are we just giving the same treatment to our 'goddess Yamuna' the same way we have been doing to women in many parts of the country, that is to annihilate them? Indians, come on, show some respect to yourself. At least live with head held up straight and not face down. Or is it that we think when everyone is on the same boat, we don't need to be ashamed of anything? In any case, you are always going to remain an Indian and you will always be looked down upon by the world wherever you go. We have reached a stage where either you continue to maintain your current status and continue living the way you do in your own lives or otherwise start looking to create some self-respect. This is applicable even to the more affluent ones, including TATAs or Ambani's. Take up the ownership to set up cells to make your success meaningful. Feel I am…& start working on Indian matters using IM - Indian Matters and make yourself matter. India matters!