The Enviro-Litigators

Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi

Assessment of the Yamuna River

by Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi

ChaturvediThis holy river Yamuna is under serious threat from pollution and contamination caused by the dumping of large amounts of untreated industrial and domestic waste into the river from the towns of Mathura and Vrindaban. The city of Mathura is situated on the right bank of the river Yamuna down stream of Delhi and upstream of Agra. The entire industrial and domestic waste of the union territory of Delhi is discharged in Yamuna directly through its 15 drains. The population of Mathura-Vrindaban towns according to a census 1991 is 2.26 lacs and 0.48 lacs respectively. The population of the twin towns is growing rapidly without having proper sanitary and hygienic facilities. Mathura town does not have a full fledged sewerage system. The trunk sewers get choked and all the branch sewer lines are discharging the wastewater into the drains. These drains further discharge the untreated waste into Yamuna causing severe pollution of the river. There are more than 37 drains carrying highly toxic domestic and industrial waste into the river Yamuna. The river has become unfit for drinking, washing or bathing purposes. There was also a slaughterhouse near the birthplace of Lord Krishna. A great number of cattle were slaughtered in this slaughterhouse, which was situated amid the dense pollution. Blood flowed in the drains and then it went in the river directly.

The topography of the town is such that the general slope of the town of Mathura is from south to north towards river Yamuna with the result that all the drains rising from any point in the town eventually flow into the river. All the 37 drains discharge untreated sewerage into the river. There are also a large number of small-scale sari dying units operating in Mathura, which are discharging highly toxic acids and other chemicals in river Yamuna. After using the water people suffer from jaundice, cholera and other water borne diseases. So much so that Yamuna water at Mathura has become laced with chemicals and is turning black in color. Fish, tortoises and other creatures, which absorbed the untreated waste easily, began to die rapidly. Other silver and brass units discharge even potassium cyanide into the river. Medical waste from local doctors and hospitals was also discharged into the river. Such was the condition of Yamuna at Mathura.

In addition, from Oct. to June for about 9 months not even a drop of Yamuna water was released from OKHALA BARRAGE. near Delhi. Only the untreated industrial and domestic effluent of Delhi, Gaziabad and other industrial towns flowed in the river. Thus the religious sentiments of the devotees were seriously hurt. When the situation became quite unbearable, I decided to unite the people for this issue. In 1984-85 the Mathur Chaturved Parishad was activated for this purpose. Karseva to clean Yamuna at the local level was started. But the authorities paid no attention, so I took the course of agitation and organized people to oppose such criminal negligence by the authorities. Instead of cooperating with me on this holy issue I was victimized and threatened by the local authorities. Yet our agitation had taken the form of a mass movement. Gheraos and dharnas were organized at many places. Total strikes were called to attract the attention of the authorities towards this grim situation. In this sequence on 2 January 1998, a grand march was organized at Mathura under the leadership of the great environmentalist Shri M.C. Mehta. Thousands and thousands of people participated in it. With the help and valuable inspiration of Mr. M.C. Mehta, I filed a writ petition (PIL/1644/98 Gopeshwarnath Chaturvedi v/s State of U.P. and others) in the High court at Allahabad on 22.12.1997. The writ was admitted on 15 January 1998. All the facts and grim position of Yamuna at Mathura and Vrindaban were presented before the court. Hon’ble Mr. M.C. Mehta himself pleaded the writ petition. The Honorable High court took the matter very seriously and after a marathon hearing gave historical directions in this regard.

The Honorable High Court ordered: -

(a) To maintain the minimum flow in the river at Mathura and Vrindaban, 50 cusecs water must be released from OKHLA Barrage per day.

(b) Installation of E.T.P. was made compulsory for the polluting industrial units.

(c) Slaughter house near the birthplace of Lord Krishna was closed with immediate effect.

(d) Plantation of about 50,000 trees near the river to check the pollution.

(e) Complete sewerage system in entire Mathura and Vrindaban cities.

(f) Tapping of the 37 drains, which fall in Yamuna at Mathura Vrindavan up to December 1999.

(g) Hunting of the tortoises and fishes was made strictly prohibited. Arrangement of river police was made for this purpose.

(h) Compulsory installation of incinerators in medical units (private nursing homes and govt. hospitals) to destroy the medical waste.

(i) Prohibition of washing the clothes by washer men and bathing of the cattle in the river.

(j) Prohibition of throwing dead bodies or mortal remains in the river

After these historical orders from honorable High Court, the authorities have to comply with them. It is the matter of satisfaction that the authorities are working round the clock on the lines as per High Court directions. It is the matter of great concern that the glacier Yamnotri at the origin of river Yamuna is melting rapidly due to the excessive heat caused by the horrible destruction of the trees which thus disturb the ecological balance. If this is allowed to happen the great heritage of ancient time Yamuna will disappear forever from this earth. So we shall have to see that aspect also.

Yours Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi 744, Ratan kund Mathura U.P. (India)


Last Updated: February 14, 2018