New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal-appointed Yamuna Monitoring Committee has asked the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to ascertain the impact of the lockdown on the water quality of the Yamuna and submit a report within a week.
The directions come in the wake of several people sharing pictures of a fuller and cleaner Yamuna on social media, attributing the reduction in pollution levels in the river to the 21-day lockdown enforced to contain the spread of deadly COVID-19.
We have asked the DPCC and the CPCB to get the Yamuna's water quality tested and submit a report to the committee within a week, Bikram S Sajwan, member of the panel and former NGT expert, said.
CPCB and DPCC officials said they will start collecting water samples Monday.
Delhi Jal Board vice chairman Raghav Chadha said the department will also conduct tests to ascertain the impact of the lockdown on the river's water quality.
The stoppage of industrial discharge has definitely had a positive effect on the river's water quality, he said.
Sharing a video, purportedly showing a cleaner Yamuna on Twitter, Manoj Misra of the non-profit Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan said, we ignored the scourge of industrial pollution, focusing largely on big ticket sewage control infrastructure etc.
Despite laws in place, industries were given a long rope vis a vis their pollution. Now COVID-19 emphatically proves where the key problem lies, he said.
Message is clear! Insist either industry goes Zero Discharge or close. Ensure Ecological Flow downstream of every existing structure on the river. No more structures of any kind. Sewage treatment though necessary is not a river rejuvenation need. It is an urbanisation challenge (sic), he tweeted.
However, Prof. C R Babu, professor emeritus at Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, Delhi University, said there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the pollution load in the Yamuna has reduced due to the lockdown.
The quantity of sewage we discharge into the drains which flow into the Yamuna remains the same, but there is marked reduction in the industrial pollution load, particularly from Haryana. We do not have many industries in Delhi, barring household industries, he said.
But I have doubts that Yamuna got cleaned during the lockdown. For the river to clean itself in 10 days, it needs a huge amount of water, he said.
A few pictures on Twitter also showed the pollution load in the river has not reduced significantly as being claimed, with thin layers of toxic foam still floating on its surface.