Agra: Uttar Pradesh officials have devised a novel method to clean up the highly-polluted Yamuna river: excavate 10 ponds to store waste water that was hitheto flowing into the river from 19 drains, treat this and then use it to create clusters of greenery along the river.
"This project envisages a series of 10 ponds along the river to store drain water for treatment. The plan will not only recharge underground reserves but help our greening efforts in a big way, plus of course prevent polluted water from flowing into the river directly," District Forest Officer N.K. Janoo said.
Around 30 million litres of water from the 19 drains will be treated every single day. Dirty water will be flushed into ponds using gravitational force. The size of the ponds will vary, according to the capacity and catchment area of each nullah.
The patches for the massive sapling plantation programme, along the river front in the city, have been identified, Janoo added. In the first phase of the project, about 2.5 km area from Hathi Ghat to the Lal Ghat area of the city will be used as pond and plantation sites.
The project draws its inspiration from the Kakrentha wetland project implemented last year. This was a pilot project in which drain water flowing into the Yamuna was treated in a similar way on a smaller scale.
"After our success with the Kakrentha wetland project, where we used the drain water to advantage - to green a patch along the river - we worked on a more ambitious project that would in course of time help solve the problem of pollution of the Yamuna," Janoo said.
The new project is likely to be funded by the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) Authority that monitors environmental projects in the eco-sensitive 10,400 sq km area around the Taj.
"We expect the green cover in the city to increase further. At just nine percent, we have a long way to go to attain the national target of 33 percent," he said.
The plan has received general approval from the state government. Details have to be filled in, for which a series of surveys and strategizing excercises are being conducted with the cooperation of related government bodies and NGOs.
The authorities are also studying the feasibility of installing floating aerators to provide more oxygen in the ponds, according to Raman, a member of the Supreme Court committee that monitors all environmental projects in the TTZ.
He says US-based Indian environmental scientist Subijoy Dutta has been contacted for designs.
Dutta, founder of the Rivers of the World Foundation and the Yamuna Foundation for Blue Water, has done a lot of work on the Yamuna river from Delhi to Agra and has offered to provide the technical know-how for the project.
The Yamuna Action Plan I and II failed to clean the Yamuna ten years ago and cost the exchequer hundreds of crores of rupees. Attention is now focussed on this unique wetland development project along the river banks, which could become a trend setter at lower costs for all rivers in the state, officials hoped.