The State of our Rivers: First CSE media briefing workshop on rivers, river pollution and cleaning strategies

New Delhi, June 14-15, 2007

The Yamuna, one of the most polluted, is an apt chronicler of the state of our rivers. Delhi, of course, is its biggest polluter – followed by Agra, Ghaziabad and Faridabad. After spending about Rs 1,500 crore on cleaning it, the Yamuna runs dirtier.

Pollution levels in the river have risen. BOD load has increased 2.5 times between 1980-2005. DO levels in the upper segments, considered pristine, are dipping – indicating an increase in organic pollution. By the time the river is midway through Delhi, the total coliform count is so high that it is difficult to count the zeroes.

And this is the state most of our rivers are in. There is, obviously, something fundamentally wrong in the way we are managing our river cleaning programmes.

To understand the condition of our rivers and the levels of pollution they face Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) organised a two-day Media Briefing Workshop in Delhi. The workshop invited journalists from states that share the Yamuna basin.

The objective of the workshop was to examine existing river cleaning programmes and try to derive lessons from them and discuss the alternate strategies that could give our rivers a new life – with a special focus on the Yamuna as a representative case. The workshop brought together river pollution experts, civil society representatives and the national river cleaning bureaucracy to debate on and demystify the key issues.

It saw about 40 participants from Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

A field trip was organised to see the major pollution outlets and treated water outlets in Delhi. The participants were also taken on a boat ride on the Yamuna to see issues first hand.

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