Delhi students clean up Yamuna ahead of CWG

By Himanshu Vatsa, IANS
Sunday, August 22, 2010

NEW DELHI - What the government could not, civil society is stepping in to do. Students in Delhi are busy doing their bit to clean up the Yamuna river, the city’s lifeline, ahead of the Commonwealth Games - planting saplings along its banks and holding workshops and street plays to enthuse people to participate in cleaning up the polluted river.

A group of students from Delhi University (DU), Jamia Millia Islamia and other educational institutes have launched the campaign ‘Walk for Yamuna’. On Saturday, the students planted dozens of saplings along the bank of the river at Wazirabad in north Delhi.

The students initially plan to clean up the banks at three places - Wazirabad, Kudusia and Nizamuddin - and later all the places in the city the river passes by before the Oct 3-14 Games, said Manas, president of the group Mantra. He goes by only one name.

“The main focus is to create awareness about preserving the river’s glory among the people who live along its banks,” Manas told IANS. The group has plans to continue with the cleanup mission even after the Games.

Thousands of students took part in a signature campaign held last week in Delhi University’s north campus. The group also held a 15-day workshop to prepare a team of artists who will perform street plays in various parts of the city. The workshop was attended by volunteers from the Maulana Azad Medical College, several colleges of DU and Faridabad’s management institute NILM.

“With the help of around a hundred volunteers from DU, Jamia Millia and other institutes, we will have a signature campaign to cover schools and colleges across the capital to garner support of the youth,” said Gautam, one of the campaigners.

Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)- Delhi, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Maulana Azad Medical College and other premier institutes are being invited to join the mission.

The group plans to hold street plays at Dilli Haat, India Habitat Centre, the DU campus, Noida Film City, JNU and other places later this month, Gautam said. They will also interact with those living near the river bank and hold meetings with representatives of various residents welfare associations.

“We’ll encourage community members to clean up the river. Students are ready to roll up their sleeves to clean up the river,” said Karishma, another member of the group.

The river, which provides 70 percent of the city’s water supply, covers 48 km in Delhi.

The pollution levels stand at an unacceptable 30 BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) between Wazirabad and Okhla in river Yamuna, according to the Yamuna River Development Authority.

The total polluted stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi is 22 km from Wazirabad to Okhla. Twenty-two drains, including 18 major drains and four through Agra and Gurgaon canals, empty into the Yamuna.

(Himanshu Vatsa can be contacted at

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