Dredged Yamuna silt highly toxic: Environmentalists
OT, June 28, 2012 07:34 IST
Okhla Times Reporter/Kalindi Kunj
When the government had started dredging exercise at the Okhla barrage after a gap of long years, many environmentalists had heaved a sigh of relief that it would help clean the river. But a few days after the task is over, many have noticed that the silt pulled out and not removed from there is flowing downstream with the River Yamuna, polluting it further.
The situation at Okhla head is also bad. After finishing the dredging exercise on the lake, the silt was left there and now many passersby have noticed that it is flowing in the water. It is not known whether Uttar Pradesh irrigation department, involved in the cleaning project, will move the silt to a safe place.
Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan has termed the operation complete waste of money.
He told Times of India: “The silt would have contained high levels of toxins considering how polluted the river is, so it was the government's responsibility to ensure that it was dumped at a safe location.”
It is understood that the silt was left to cut project cost. Overall Rs 12 crore was spend on the drive and had the slit been removed and dumped to other places it would have added Rs 5 crore more to the exchequer.
But environmentalists are least convinced with the argument and have demanded an environment impact assessment of the project. Will the government oblige them? Also they fear that the toxic may find their way to places where farming takes place and get into food chain.
Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Link, said: "Yamuna is a completely sluggish river and the reason these silt islands formed in the first place is because the water flow is not sufficient to carry the silt further down. Heavy monsoon flows in the river are still a few months away and either the silt will get deposited downstream or dissolve right here again."
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