Celebrating the World Environment Day this year, CitySpidey spoke to Manoj Kumar Mishra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, in order to spread awareness and to awaken the citizens. In the early 20th century, the Yamuna waters were described as clear blue. However, due to the high-density of population and rapid industrialisation today, the Yamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, especially around New Delhi, the capital of India.
This year, the theme declared by the UN (United Nations) happens to be "Reimagine. Restore. Recreate". Mishra said, "We all must contribute towards restoring our ecosystem, our Yamuna ji." Making the audience realise the current situation of Yamuna River, he said that we all know how it is at the present.
As the theme suggests we must also reimagine how Yamuna River used to be and how it can be in the future. We need to recreate the systems and restore the river as a responsibility.
In the beginning, Mishra talked about a long-lost time when Yumuna river was called the lifeline. He highlighted that Yamuna river gets highly polluted by Delhi. During the conversation, he wanted to awaken the citizens by mentioning the fact that Yamuna's presence in Delhi modulates and moderates the temperature. Delhi's climate is regulated by the river. He also notified that rivers act as air purifiers. Mishra talked about how alarmingly the natural biodiversity, flora and fauna has depleted in the river Yamuna. He shared that it's sad that the people of the city have lost their connection with river Yamuna.
CitySpidey's moderator Ketan Vaidya said that the Environment Day is not about just celebrating one day, rather it's more about realisation and representation of the current situation to act upon it.
Many viewers joined this interactive session. Some people commented, "Let's environ-mend and celebrate the environment everyday." He said that sharing the current situation of river Yamuna, "Currently, Yamuna has more waste water, sewage, surface runoff and industrial waste." He expressed this very sadly that the cities beyond Delhi, including Mathura-Vrindavan, Agra to Allahabad, the water is poisonous to even take a dip.
Moving further, he talked about Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, an initiative that started in February 2007, with numbered people to save Yamuna. Their aim was to get the river back to its natural state. Mishra said, "Yamuna has always blessed us with water, food, crops, purified air, moderate temperatures and what not. It's shameful that we humans have returned her nothing but waste water filled with chemicals and pollutants."
Mishra shared how Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan started, and said it was a journey and still there's a long way to go. During the initial six months they conducted a survey and found out the root cause. They charted the possible solutions and started approaching. They filed petitions and met government officials.
Mishra said that they even met late APJ Abdul Kalam and presented their idea of saving Yamuna and making it better with possible solutions. With the passing years, they raised their voice against some construction works that hampered the flood plain. During the process, more voices joined, he said.
When they started there wasn't much use of social media, he added. Still, they tried all methods to reach out to people on emails and through the media. He said that they might have lost a few battles, but they won the war. Post 2010, there were no major constructions that hampered the Yamuna flood plain. He shared that they used RTI, and people's voice collectively and advocacy to counter the issue.
Many people joined the initiative, he said, while adding that Rajendra Singh headed the Yamuna Satyagraha in which farmers and people from the city joined. Gradually, with support, they created people's river health index that helped in estimation of water quality.
During the session, a viewer recalled Sahibi Nadi, a tributary of river Yamuna in a comment saying that it got converted into Najafagarh Nalah.
Many viewers asked and showed their concern about the Najafagarh Nalah that causes major pollution to river Yamuna. People asked whether the water gets treated before the nallah enters Delhi.
Commenting on this, Mishra talked about the National Green Tribunal established in 2012, highlighting the points that were discussed in a meeting recently in April 2021. Local and government bodies were a part of this meeting. They created a roadmap now the implementation and execution has to be focused upon, he said.
In the session, Mishra and Vaidya also talked about the lockdown's impact on Yamuna. Mishra highlighted that during the lockdown, it has been seen that the quality of water has improved drastically. The factories were closed due to which the industrial waste was minimised. The natural flow of water filtered the water by itself. This confirmed how reducing industrial waste can rejuvenate and restore the river.
Mishra voiced a message for the citizens of the city that one should be aware, responsible and ask, he said, "You aren't a proud Delhite without Yamuna."
Watch the full video to know more about Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan and be conscious to save the river.