NEW DELHI: “I will not be able to take a dip in the Yamuna,” Kapil Mishra, Delhi’s former water resources minister, makes a candid admission to The Sunday Standard. Mishra had in September 2015 promised to revive the Yamuna by 2018 and had even vowed to take a bath in the river “in 36 months”. Over two years since then, the promise has fallen flat and the river still remains a glorified drain.
But Mishra, who was sacked by the Arvind Kejriwal government in May this year, passes the blame on the Chief Minister. “The plan is ready. If they implement it, the Yamuna will be cleaned in 36 months,” he says. “I had submitted a plan, but they have not done anything to implement it. The government had allocated Rs 200 crore to clean the river, but Kejriwal, who now also holds the water portfolio, has not done anything,” he says, adding no tender had been floated so far.
The key features of Clean Yamuna plan
- Cleaning the river and all drains flowing into it
- Stop the sludge coming from Haryana
- Restoring the ecological value of the river by building: Treatment wetlands
- Catchment wetlands Mosaic of grasslands Floodplain forests Terrestrial forest communities
Money down the drain
- Rs 2,000 crore: Amount spent on cleaning Yamuna over 22 years
- NGT ordered setting up of 32 STPs along the river in 2015
- Rs 563 crore used in Phase 1 of Yamuna Action Plan
- Rs 1,600 crore additionally allocated, yet to be spent
- Phase 1 of the Yamuna Action Plan aims to reduce pollution in Najafgarh and Delhi Gate drains
- Phase 2 to tackle pollution at Shahdara and Barapullah drains
- NGT asked Haryana and Himachal pollution control boards to test water quality 67% of pollutants to be treated at STPs in Delhi Gate and Najafgarh
- Centre and Delhi govt have missed NGT status reports deadlines
- NGT had fined them Rs 50,000 each for the delay
The National Green Tribunal, too, is peeved with the Delhi government’s “inaction” and “non-cooperation” in implementing the Clean Yamuna plan. The green panel had last month lashed out at the city government and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for delaying compliance of orders on the Yamuna cleaning project and asked them to show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them. The DJB and the Delhi government are set to miss the deadline they had proposed in 2015 for completing the project.
The work of laying interceptor sewers along three major drains (Najafgarh, supplementary and Shahdara) has not even started. According to a government official, almost 85 per cent of the work is still pending due to multiple reasons, including the Delhi government’s tussle with DJB former CEO Keshav Chandra, who was transferred last week to Union Ministry of Commerce. The government had accused Chandra of irregularities in the tendering process of 14 sewage treatment plants along the Yamuna. Jal Board authorities refused to say anything on record, but an official said all eyes would be on the new CEO. The government passed the buck to the DJB.
While presenting the Budget for 2017-18, the Delhi government had made tall claims and said, “The project for laying of Interceptor Sewers along three major drains shall be completed soon. This will be a milestone for cleaning and beautification of the Yamuna. This model will be followed for cleaning major drains of Delhi.”