NEW DELHI: The rising content of ammonia in the Yamuna river has forced Delhi Jal Board (DJB) officials to issue an advisory to residents of the capital last week. The levels of ammonia rose to an alarming level of 40 per cent twice in two months. It was first reported in January that levels of ammonia had touched 37 per cent, while last week the level went up to 40 per cent. Residents of south and south west Delhi have been complaining of water emitting a pungent smell. The permissible level of ammonia in water is 0.05 particles per million.
Last week, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) took notice of the polluted water and ordered the Delhi government to identify the sources of pollution and check the water it was sending to neighbouring Haryana.
As per the DJB advisory, high levels of ammonia in the Yamuna water supply was due to the closure of the Upper Ganga Canal in areas bordering east Delhi. “We request the residents to take required preventive measures before using the water, specially for consumption,” the advisory said.
Officials of the Haryana Water Department and Delhi government were supposed to meet on the issue last week, but the alleged assault by AAP MLAs on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash prevented it from materialising.
DJB has been flooded with complaints. “We have been receiving complaints of dirty water and we are doing our best. Sewage Treatment Plants are filled to capacity, and the bureaucratic stand-off is not helping the cause. We had promised clean water by Tuesday, and most parts of the city have been getting the same,” a DJB official said.
Residents, however, say there has been no improvement in the quality of water they have been getting at home. “This problem has been persistent. When I wash my hands, they are left with a pungent smell. The water is frothy. I have to wash my hands with soap and filtered water to get rid of the smell,” said Lajwanti Kapoor, a 52-year-old housewife in Jangpura.
Reema Kumar, who lives in Mangolpuri, said her children had fallen ill and the doctor suspected it to be a case of unclean water. “The authorities need to fix this problem soon. Children are susceptible to unclean water, and with the summers coming, we can’t keep them away from water as well,” she said.
“Ammonia is very dangerous. It can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and long term exposure can cause more serious illnesses,” pulmonologist pulmonologist Dr Hemanth Katra said.