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| Last Updated:23/05/2019

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NGT order to make Delhi drains pollution-free

 NEW DELHI: If the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) judgment on Yamuna and stormwater drains in Delhi is implemented, drains, that are eyesore now, will transform to recreational green spaces. NGT, while pronouncing a judgment on restoration of Yamuna and natural drains in the city earlier this week, accepted the recommendations of an expert committee headed by IIT professor, A K Gosain. One of the plans is to ensure that no sewage enters the natural stormwater drains that lead to Yamuna. This will serve two purposes — pollution load in Yamuna will reduce and natural drains will recharge Delhi's groundwater aquifers. It will cost the government about Rs 4,000 crore to make it a reality. 

To start with, no drains will be covered in Delhi under NGT's 'Mailey se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Plan, 2017.' Those who have just begun construction will have to remove the structures. Two projects to cover drain had already started in Andrews Ganj and Chirag Dilli under a Rs 233-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) scheme. About Rs 58 crore have already been spent on it. These projects may now be scrapped completely. "The reason is simple. If the rain water is not reaching the drains, the underground aquifers are not getting recharged. These drains are also rich in biodiversity and support a large number of species, but that will not happen if drains are covered. Drains will also not play their natural role of carrying floodwater if there is sewage in it," said Gosain. There are about 200 such natural drains in Delhi that need immediate relief from sewage and toxic effluents that flows into them. 

NGT's plan is to ensure that in unsewered areas of Delhi - about 45% of the city -- the sewage generated is intercepted before it enters the natural stormwater drains. "Sewage can be picked up and diverted to the nearest sewer line or taken to nearest STP. That is why we need new STPs in the city. As for sewered areas -- 55% of Delhi - people have no business draining sewage into natural drains," Gosain said. In these sewered areas, the sewerage system may need repair and maintenance as part of the project. Gosain is hopeful that this project may be successful as Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in its affidavit had itself suggested the plan. 

Along with ensuring that the natural drains are sewage-free, certain species of grasses and trees will be planted along them. "Some grasses help clean water. Drains also have their micro eco-system where a lot of species thrive. With this, we can maintain biodiversity. NGT is treating the natural drains as part of larger Yamuna," Manoj Misra, petitioner in the case against covering of stormwater drains, said. He added that the judgment could have been even more effective had the tribunal imposed the "polluter pays" principle against those who dump waste in drains.