'This river cannot be used even for last rites'

'This river cannot be used even for last rites'

The older generation reminisces about how clean the Yamuna used to be a long time ago

There was a time when people used to drink water from the Yamuna. But nowadays it can’t even be used for performing the last rites, let alone using it for any other purpose, says Jaglan Singh, a 65-year-old resident of Jasola village in south Delhi.

This generation cannot imagine the Yamuna with clean water. But there was a time when it had sparkling water that used to change colours as the ebb and flow of the tide.
“At least till 40 years ago, it had crystal clear water. We used to drink it and bath in it. I remember herding buffaloes on the bank of the river,” adds Singh.

“The two most sacred rivers for Hindus are the Ganga and Yamuna. All the religious ceremonies revolve around them. But the deteriorating condition of the Yamuna has forced us to shun it.”

People now prefer to carry water bottles rather than use the Yamuna water for the last rights, even when they are performed close to the Yamuna in Delhi, he says.

Once, people were dependent on the river in their day-to-day life. It was an integral part of their lives. Suresh Pehalwan, a resident of Madanpur Khadar village in south Delhi, recalls using the river’s water for cooking.

“About 35 years ago, all meals of the day were prepared using its water. One could even spot a coin thrown in it. And now it has turned black,” says the 58-year-old farmer.

“I was fond of swimming in it once. But these days nobody will even want to put a hand in it,” he adds.

“We have grown up playing along the river bank. It’s hard for us to see such a dismal condition of the river where once we used to spend leisure time,” he says.

Inhabitants of the Yamuna region in the city blame the government for its deplorable condition.

“All the waste from sewerage across Delhi is thrown into the river. There are many open drains from which the waste goes into the Yamuna. The authorities have been informed about it, but no action has been taken so far,” says Satyavir Rana, a resident of Okhla.

“The tenders for its cleanliness is passed on paper only. But nothing happens on the ground. The government emphasised on building more industries and forgot to think of its consequences,” he adds.

“If one wants to see clean Yamuna, he should go out of the limits of Delhi. Nowhere else its condition is so pathetic.”

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