Friday, April 11, 2014

Requiem for an urban drain!

What was river Thames to London in 1858 is the river Yamuna to Delhi now. The only difference being that the Indian Parliament is not close enough for its curtains to be soaked in lime to stop the stink emanating from the waste-laden river from disrupting the proceedings, as had happened in London then. Could its distance from the seat of power be the reason for gross neglect of the river which, for most part of the year, qualifies to be no more than an open drain? 

Neither is there a policy in India to ensure continuous freshwater flow in perennial rivers nor a law to protect a flowing river from being used as an open drain. Net result is that far from harnessing its ecological munificence, the glacier-fed river of immense cultural significance is being allowed to be wasted away in the capital. Official apathy notwithstanding, a motley group of ecologists have drawn together a ‘manifesto’, a declaration on plight of the river and views on its preservation. Published to commemorate an Indo-German outreach project on river Yamuna in India and Elbe in Germany, the bilingual manifesto offers a multi-disciplinary perspective on everything one would have liked to know about the river.  

It is quite unlikely; however, if the veritable decline of the river will be reversed anytime soon. Neither has there been a public outcry against its continuous deterioration nor a political resolve to bring the river back to life. Even a child knows that for a river to flow it should have an adequate amount of freshwater all the year round. And unless the city stops pouring untreated sewage into it, the river will continue to remain an open drain. Penned down by two river experts, Himanshu Thakkar and Manoj Mishra, the manifesto offers suggestions that can be worked to create a way forward.  It stops short of recommending ‘tough’ measures, though. 

Had Charles Dickens been alive, he wouldn't have been shy in describing Yamuna as ‘a dark, stinking sludge, and the scene of petty crimes.’....Link 

Yamuna Manifesto
by Ravi Agarwal and Till Krause (Eds)
Toxics Link/SANDRP, New Delhi
Extent: 122, Price: Not Indicated

1 comment:

  1. Excellent as usual Sudhir ! I feel very sad with our Buriganga and three other rivers around the capital city - Dhaka. Just for your consolation, one official from Water Keeper Alliance visited Dhaka and said (before going to Buriganga) that the Yamuna was the worst river of the world he visited so far. I said ok let's go to see the B'ganga and then hear your statement - but the struggling 'keeper' was not ready to accept anything below the Yamuna. After his day long visit- he was looking quite gloomy, dejected, despondent !! With apology he agreed to withdraw his earlier statement. Though we failed to adopt any regional water resource planning by the governments to save the flows but we could successfully achieve the disasters on rivers just being unwilling to achieve anything ! God save us !!