The over 1,300-km-long Yamuna is among the most polluted rivers in the country. (File)
The government's decision to build the Lakhwar and Renukaji dams will not just help address Delhi-NCR's water supply needs but also lead to "rebirth" of the River Yamuna, one of the most polluted rivers in the country, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said.
The government has extended the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) under which 90 per cent grant has been given to three national projects including Renukaji in Himachal Pradesh and Lakhwar in Uttarakhand.
In an interview with PTI, the Jal Shakti minister said the construction of the dams would be critical for the national capital's water supply needs and also lead to "rebirth" of the river.
"Like in the case of Ganga, it has been notified that all dam holding stakeholders have to discharge a particular quantum of water in non-monsoon months. Similarly, we will make it mandatory that some amount of water has to flow in Yamuna too and when water will flow and if effluent treatment plants are working, then fresh and treated water both will improve Yamuna water quality," he said.
The Lakhwar Multipurpose Project envisages construction of a 204 metre high concrete dam across the River Yamuna in Uttarakhand and aims to provide irrigation benefit to 33,780 hectares and 78.83 million cubic metres of drinking and industrial water supply, while the Renukaji Dam Project involves construction of a 148 metre high rockfill dam across River Giri in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh which will provide water to Delhi-NCR.
On the issue of pollution in the River Yamuna, Mr Shekhawat said just two per cent or 22 km of Yamuna falls in Delhi but 98 per cent of pollution in Yamuna comes from Delhi so the reason for high pollution in the national capital is untreated or semi treated industrial effluents or sewage that is being discharged into the river in this 22 km stretch.
The over 1,300-km-long Yamuna is among the most polluted rivers in the country.
Mr Shekhawat said the Delhi government keeps blaming Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments for the pollution of Yamuna while in reality Delhi's effluent treatment plants are not up to the mark and sewage treatment plants also need to be upgraded by the city government.
"Water being a state subject, it is the state's responsibility. So by working on rejuvenation of Yamuna, we are actually fulfilling their responsibility. For any project, the Centre can give technical or financial assistance. Ultimately conceiving a project, augmenting it, implementing it and operating and maintaining it is the responsibility of the state. The Delhi government has absolutely failed in that," Shekhawat said.
He said even the projects conceived in 2012 have not been completed yet by the Delhi government.
"To conceive and implement any project takes two-three years, and for them (Delhi government) the tendering process itself took three years. They (city government) said they will establish a decentralised sewage treatment plant in Chattarpur but in five years they have not even secured land for it. They are just making promises," he said.
On ground water rejuvenation, Mr Shekhawat said for the last few years awareness has increased among people on the subject.
Noting that the geographical and underwater conditions of each state is different from another, the minister said if ground water activities are based on them then better results can be seen.
"We have started aquifer mapping and 80 per cent of it has been done, and taking it to micro level we will be using Australian technology. Till now traditional technology was being used. We have identified vulnerable regions facing maximum critical issues and are aiming to finish it in one year span and simultaneously in Jal Shakti Abhiyan, the groundwater related activities and investment of Rs 56,000 crore has been made," he said.
Under the Atal Bhujal Yojana, investment is being made in select districts of seven states with lowest level of ground water availability, he added.