River Yamuna is one of the biggest rivers to flows through the world's largest river basin- the Ganges river basin. A population of 500 million depends on this river basin, which is spread over nearly 10,86,000 square kilometers. The river basin is also the land of one of the most ancient known civilizations. But the government as well as international studies are now suggesting that this river system which has had religious, political and ecological importance, is now dead.
The government of India claims on its website that the river Yamuna does not have a single drop of natural water after it flows through Delhi. The United Nations website in one of its report declares it as a dead river. People in the country who’ve had even one look at this river would tell you the same.
The ecological impact on river Yamuna has been immense-with the aquatic life disappearing by the day. Fish, turtles, alligators and other such life dependent on fresh river water are dying in the toxic industrial pollutants and sewage dumped in Yamuna. The Taj Mahal, situated on its banks is under threat, as conservationists fear a dry river Yamuna would weaken the wood-based foundation of the Taj Mahal, which requires moisture.
The Lancet, a British medical journal claims in an article that a bacteria found in New Delhi drinking water carries a gene, NDM-1 (New Delhi metallobetalactamase), for an enzyme that conveys resistance to almost all known antibiotics. Resistant bacteria turned up “in public water used for drinking, washing and food preparation and also in pools and rivulets in heavily populated areas where children play. An estimated 500,000 people in New Delhi now carry resistant bacteria.
Medical fraternity is concerned about the rapid spread of this form of bacteria resistance that can imperil all kinds of routine medical procedures that depend on the ability to treat infections. This could lead to the crumbling of the whole edifice of modern medicine. This bacteria resistance could spread to all the towns and villages downstream of Delhi.
Cleaning the river Yamuna is the responsibility of the Government, which is legally bound by law to provide safe drinking water to its citizens. The courts have passed several judgments on the issue of providing clean drinking waters in towns/cities situated on the banks of River Yamuna but all this has proven to be a futile exercise as a dirty Yamuna is becoming dirtier with each passing day.
Photograph by DOTW News