How to Keep Yamuna Clean

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About Yamuna. But not just Yamuna
• Every river, every lake, every water body getting polluted. Full of our sewage. • We take water, return sewage.
• 80% of water leaves as sewage
• Cities are growing, need more water, discharge more pollution. • Dirty water means ill health: biggest cause of
children’s death.
Be angry. Not acceptable.

22 Km stretch in Delhi Contributes 70 per cent of the total pollution load of the river

Funds spent, programmes implemented
• By 2006
17 sewage treatment plants built;
10 common effluent plants built;
30 km of trunk sewers repairs (out of 130 km)
Slums removed from riverfront
Low-cost toilets built

Money Spent
-Not about pollution. It is about sewage
• We discuss pollution because it is modern and somehow touchable. • We do not discuss human excreta and its disposal.
That is an untouchable subject.

• Flush and forget mindset.
• Drains will carry it. Somebody will treat it. Somebody
will build sewage treatment plant. Clean it. Dispose it.
• Don’t care. Yamuna is polluted not because of us
But it is about us: our water; our sewage

Current system: bring water (from distance); treat, pump, pipe to home, take sewage, pump, pipe, treat and dispose…river will be clean • Should work. But:
a. It is capital intensive – creates divide
between the rich and poor in a city. The state can subsidise some but not all. Subsidises rich b. It is resource intensive – uses water, creates
waste. Adds to stress.


-Arithmetic of excreta
• The more water we use = the more waste we generate
• The more waste we generate = more money to collect, to convey, to treat and to dispose -------------------------------------------------
• The more waste we do not treat = polluted water and increased burden of health costs

If STP was the answer, pollution in
Yamuna not a problem
• India has installed capacity to treat roughly 20% of excreta it generates • Delhi has 40% of India’s installed capacity
• 17 STPs: can treat 2330 mld of waste
• Delhi generates 2,500 mld (DJB) or 3,700 mld (CPCB)
• Can treat: 93% or 62%
• But..
Underutilised: where there is waste; no STP;
where there is STP; no waste

Drainage exists; but does not work. Drainage
does not exist; does not work
• Cannot transport waste to the sewage plant. Sewage plant cannot treat. • 5,600 km of drains in city; 130 km of trunk sewers; in poor state. Then:
• Large parts of the city does not have official underground drainage system -------------------------------------------------
• Large parts of the city lives in unauthorized illegal colonies

Utilised: but mixed with untreated
• “Illegal or unauthorised or unconnected” but will have excreta • This excreta flows into drains; which carry treated effluents • ‘Legal’ partially treated effluent mixed with ‘illegal’ untreated effluent -------------------------------------------------

• Result: pollution

Sewage treatment plants located far away from sources.
Treated water mixed in same drain. Not reused.

Can we pay full cost?
• It costs Rs 5-6 per 1000 litres to supply treated water to us • We pay Rs 2.20 per 1000 litres
• Cost will increase if pollution increases.
Upstream cities will do the same as Delhi
• Will cost Rs 30-40 per 1000 litres to take back our sewage; treat it; dispose it. (Hardly pay) • Cost will increase as river gets more polluted.
No assimilative capacity.

Cost of system is high. Cannot pay.
Cannot subsidise all. Only rich.

• This is the political economy of defecation.
• The rich use water. Are connected to sewage system. Waste is collected. Even treated. • But they cannot...
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