Agra battles water crisis as Yamuna is highly polluted

Monday, January 17, 2011

AGRA - Agra has been battling a water crisis for over a month now as the sewer and industrial effluents have polluted the Yamuna river, causing an inadequate water supply to the residents.

There has been hardly any fresh inflow in the river as all it carries is the pollutants from Delhi and towns in Haryana, officials here say.

The erratic and inadequate supply from the century old Agra Water Works also was highly polluted and pale yellow in colour, raising an alarm among the residents.

For days together since December, there has been no water supply in many parts of the city. Every few days there is a crisis, according to several councillors of the Agra Municipal Corporation. They have demanded thorough overhauling of the Jal Sansthan headed by Agra Mayor Anjula Singh Mahaur.

“The demand pressure because of the cold wave is low at the moment, but after a few weeks when temperature begins to rise, what will happen?” asks Congress state secretary Sumeet Vibhav.

For the past several days, the water being supplied is stinking and yellow in colour with high levels of impurities, said Anubhav Gupta, a resident of Vijay Nagar colony.

In half the city there was no water supply Friday. The supply was in trickles Thursday too.

A Jal Sansthan official told IANS: “The water flow in Yamuna has reduced. The discharge from the Gokul Barrage is full of pollutants that need to be filtered and neutralised.”

Another official said because of the low temperatures, the chlorine and bleaching powder were not proving effective.

The official said the supply was just 30 to 35 cusecs against 250 cusecs agreed upon. “With water flow reduced, the polluted water at the Gokul Barrage in Mathura was not getting diluted.”

Agra’s Divisional Commissioner Sudhir M. Bobde and District Magistrate Amrit Abhijat have approached the Uttar Pradesh irrigation department in Lucknow for release of more water from the Ganga canal into the Yamuna.

Jal Sansthan general manager Jawahar Ram said immediate release of 250 cusecs of water into Yamuna was needed at the Harnal Escape upstream of Mathura, to tide over the problem.

The Jal Sansthan officials have written several requests to the Uttar Pradesh irrigation department to arrange for additional release of water into the Yamuna, but the response has been negative.

Ram said the level of pollution in the river has increased after November.

The problem is that the filtering machines at the water works get choked with pollutants and there is increased load on the pumps, officials explained.

By the time the Yamuna enters Agra district, it is reduced to a sewage canal with heavy discharges from upstream drains and a substantial quantity of river water is lifted by the farmers for irrigating their fields.

“Hundreds of private pumps lift river water without permission. The problem will become more acute once the summer crops are sown this month, the water melons, cucumbers that we get,” said an official.

“Only two months ago, there was a flood in Yamuna. One wonders where all the water in the river has disappeared. They should have better storage facilities. The canal system and the community ponds should have been dredged and cleaned,” green activist Ravi Singh said.

The 18 lakh city population is at present served by two water works. Construction of the Rs.1,200 crore conduit pipeline project with Japanese support to bring Ganga water directly to the Sikandra water works has already begun and is expected to be completed in 2012.

Filed under: Economy

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