Volunteers collect truckloads of garbage from Yamuna

March 23rd, 2010 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) More than 3,000 schoolchildren, college students and volunteers of the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation plunged into cleaning the Yamuna amid scorching heat Tuesday, collecting truckloads of garbage that choke the river and its banks here.
The residents of Yamuna Bazaar ghat in north Delhi provided boats and lifeguards to help the volunteers who brought back garbage from the river.

“Besides schoolchildren and college students, locals also participated in the cleaning. We collected five truckloads of garbage from this ghat,” Purshottam Mathur, a project coordinator, told IANS.

The rubbish collected included plastic, clothes, shoes, thermocol and even bones.

“The Nigambodh Ghat crematorium is near the riverbank and probably that is why bones were found from the river. Also, during the last rites, people generally collect flowers and other material in a plastic bag and throw them in the river with the ashes,” said Suresh Chandar, a volunteer working at the site.

Several slum clusters are situated near the riverbank and the volunteers said there is urgent need to create awareness among residents. “People living in those slums need to be sensitised,” said another volunteer Rajendar Nasa.

The campaign to clean the Yamuna river - ‘My Yamuna, My Dilli’ - was launched by AOL founder and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar last week at Purana Qila.

Apart from cleaning the Yamuna river, the volunteers also focussed on spreading awareness among locals about the harmful effect of throwing plastic and other non-biodegradable products into the river.

Sham Sunder Sharma, a resident, said: “I am a priest and conducting prayers at the riverside forms a major part of my income. We hope with such campaigns, the government will look at our condition and proper steps will be taken.”

Amit Prasad, a Delhi University student, said it was high time the government woke up to the pollution.

“There are NGOs that have solutions and there are scientists who are willing to work on cleaning the Yamuna, but the government has to take a lead,” he added.

Besides college and school students, professionals also took part in the campaign.

“Action speaks louder than words, every little bit counts. I got more volunteers from various colleges. One has to make an effort,” Manish Bajaj, who is marketing manager in Liqus Technologies, told IANS.

A recent report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revealed that the faecal content in the water of the Yamuna is so high that the river resembles a drain.

According to the CPCB’s 10-month-long monitoring of the Yamuna river at Nizamuddin, the water is unfit not just for drinking but even for bathing or washing.

According to stipulated standards, water can be made potable with treatment if faecal coliform is less than 500 per 100 ml. It is fit for bathing if the number is less than 5,000 per 100 ml. However, the lowest level of faecal coliform in the Yamuna, measured May 4, 2009, was 4.4 lakh per 100 ml — almost 100 times above the level considered safe for bathing.

Originating in the lower Himalayas, the Yamuna is 1,376 km long. The 22-km-long stretch that passes through Delhi is one of the most polluted.

Thousands of crores of Rupees have been spent under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) I and II to clean the river.

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