The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said water supply to parts of north, central and south Delhi would be disrupted on Wednesday following a spike in ammonia levels in the Yamuna. Blaming the Haryana government for releasing industrial effluents into the Yamuna “despite repeated reminders”, DJB vice-chairman and AAP leader Raghav Chadha Tuesday asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) to look into the issue and sternly deal with the state’s “irresponsible behaviour”.
Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) member secretary S Narayanan said they have increased vigilance and are carrying out inspections of all industrial units: “No major violation has been noted so far. We have discussed our position with DJB and the CPCB.”
The impact of increasing pollution in the Yamuna is being noted in frequent disruption to Delhi’s water supply.
The most recent spike was noted on Monday and Tuesday, when ammonia levels shot up to 7.3 parts per million (ppm) at the Wazirabad pond area — where DJB draws water from — against its acceptable limit of 0.5 ppm.
What happens when ammonia levels increase?
When the concentration rises beyond the DJB’s treatment capacity of 0.9 ppm, water production at 3 out of 9 water treatment plants — Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Okhla — have to be stopped or reduced, which impacts supply to parts of the city. The issue is a long-standing one between Haryana and Delhi, with DJB officials stating that the spike in ammonia levels has been more frequent this year.
Why is Haryana blamed?
The Yamuna flows into Delhi from Haryana and the state has industrial units in Sonipat, close to Delhi’s northern border. Ammonia is used as an industrial chemical in the production of fertilisers, plastics and dyes.
A specific area where both Haryana and Delhi agree on is the mixing of two drains carrying drinking water and sewage or industrial waste, or both, in Sonipat. Drain number 8 brings potable water to the capital and drain number 6 carries wastewater. The two drains often mix due to overflow or damage to the wall that separates them.
Haryana’s irrigation department is expected to start a tendering process to build a conduit pipeline and prevent the mixing of two drains, officials said.
Haryana government officials also state that the issue is being raised frequently by Delhi because it wants more water to be released into the Yamuna to meet the city’s growing water demand.
Chadha, however, said the city at present receives “much less than the share of water we deserve”.
What is the solution?
Officials in Haryana and in the DJB state that the Board should increase its capacity to treat ammonia levels in the water.
In a recent meeting, Water Minister Satyendar Jain has directed that ozone-based units to treat ammonia levels up to 4 ppm should be installed at Chandrawal and Wazirabad WTPs.
The laying of a conduit pipeline to separate drain number 8 and 6 would also reduce pollution of potable water. However, it is not clear when this would be completed.
The National Green Tribunal-appointed Yamuna Monitoring Committee has also said approvals to build the conduit should be fast tracked.
The panel had also recommended to the Ministry of Jal Shakti earlier this year to rework the 1994 water sharing pact between Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and UP to revive the river by releasing more fresh water into it.