One of the landmark judgments in India includes giving a status of “living entity” to the second largest river in the country- Yamuna. Despite having the status, the river is murdered every day. It flows through the capital city Delhi and the city (Agra) where the seventh wonder of the world exist. Maximum water pollution is due to toxic materials from industries getting mixed in the water, animals like cows, buffalos are bathed in the Yamuna by the farmers and milkmen, dirty linens being wasted by washermen, sewage opened in the river by more than 20 drains and idol immersion on various occasions. Idols are made up of plaster of Paris which is a non-biodegradable material. It becomes difficult for the municipal body to remove the insoluble waste from the river after idol immersion. Solid waste, plastic bags, papers, etc. are dumped in the river, once these are consumed by water species and animals on the ground, it causes their death, the dead bodies get decomposed and cause contamination and other water diseases. Yamuna expressway adds to air pollution leading to the contaminated water. This contaminated water goes to numerous households causing diseases like typhoid. National Green Tribunal (NGT) enforced a ban on idol immersion in the year 2015, but the practice still continues. A question has been raised in the Indian parliament to prevent water pollution in the Yamuna, but all efforts are gone in vain. In order to prevent pollution caused due to idol immersion, biodegradable idols should be promoted. Such idols are low in cost and prevent water pollution. The government must join hands with corporate, academics and promote social innovation to take up the difficult mission to clean the Yamuna. Business houses and celebrities must set an example by following this trend to motivate people to quit using non-biodegradable idols for immersion.
The need of the hour is social innovation where the mission is guided by the government and managed by the businesses to motivate all Indians to protect the environment. Academics should be encouraged to undertake research and hold discussion forums. The government must fund IITs to continue further research on prevention of Yamuna degradation. National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed compensation on Delhi households for dumping sewage in the Yamuna, but the order itself is ambiguous. The drains alone cause 63% pollution in the river. Idol immersion chokes the river, and there is an encroachment on river floodplains. The Indian government has already spent funds to clean the river, but the government alone cannot succeed in the mission without strong backing from the corporate world. The need of the hour is to start campaigns with business houses to promote cleaning of the river by imparting awareness through training programs. The government can provide subsidy and tax holidays to corporate houses which are supporting this mission. Treatment of contaminated water involves capital and the same can be arranged through joint ventures between government and private business houses. Deviation of the flow of drains for waste disposal from industries and households project can be jointly managed by the government and industries. Innovation in terms of promoting biodegradable idols for idol immersion should be encouraged. Artisans and craftsmen engaged in the production of such idols should be promoted by the government. Private business houses can provide a platform for such artisans to showcase their product and online selling facilities should be provided to the artisans. As a part of mandatory two per cent CSR, imposed by the Indian government on business houses, this mission can be undertaken. Sadhguru recently started a rally for rivers aiming at rejuvenation of depleted rivers reaching out to people to share their ideas to protect the environment. Such efforts should be appreciated.
Author: Dr. Neeti Mathur
Assistant Professor (Management)
Assistant Registrar (Placement)
National Law University, Jodhpur