Libmonster ID: IN-1234
Author(s) of the publication: V. P. KASHIN


Candidate of Historical Sciences

Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Key words: India, Jamna, Delhi, river pollution and shallowing, irrigation, Water Board, Taj Mahal

One of the main demands of the manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which won a convincing victory in the parliamentary elections in India in April-May 2014, was the purification of the Ganges (Ganges). But today, the situation of the Jumna River, on the banks of which the capital Delhi is located, is even more alarming. The Indian media calls it catastrophic.

Dazhamna (or Yamuna), like the Volga, flows from afar, flows for a long time. The river originates on the southern slopes of the Great Himalayas from the Cham Glacier and the Bandara Punchh mountain peak. It flows out of the Saptrishi Kund Lake, located at the foot of the mountain. After making a deep gorge in the Small Himalayas, the river continues in a south-westerly direction, skirting the picturesque Sivalik hills and reaching the Indo-Gangetic plains near the city of Yamunanagar. For almost 800 km, it runs parallel to the Ganges, forming a Doab (Two Rivers) with it.

Doab is the breadbasket of Hindustan and the second most populous region after Bengal. Up to Agra, the Jamna flows south, then turns southeast and at the city of Allahabad (ancient Prayag) merges with the Ganges and the mythical "underground" Saraswati River in the highly revered place of Sangam by Hindus.

The Jamna is a right tributary of the Ganges and the longest of its tributaries. Its length is 1384 km, the basin area is 351 thousand square kilometers.


Jamna, Jumna, Yamuna, Yamna or Yami is a sacred river. In honor of the goddess Yamuna, daughter of the sun god Surya and sister of the death god Yama, a temple has been erected at the Yamunotri hot spring. In it, rituals are performed in front of the image of the goddess, carved out of black marble.

The Yamuna is only slightly less holy than the Ganges. And all because on the banks of the deep and fast Yamuna, in the city of Mathura, the divine Krishna was born, the eighth avatar of the guardian Vishnu and the most popular and beloved god of Hindus. Here, in the villages of Gokul and Vrindavan, he spent his childhood and youth.

In the emerald meadows, blown by the calm and fragrant wind from the river, he grazed cows, defeated terrible and terrible demons, played pranks with boys and entertained girls with charming tunes of a reed flute. He danced with them in turn, hugging their slender bodies or rounded shoulders tightly, and smiled tenderly into the shining eyes of a girl. And every cowherd girl, intoxicated with love, felt that only to her did Krsna give his tenderness, only with her did he dance and only to her did he sing his songs on the banks of the azure Yamuna.

But now a rare Hindu Orthodox or madman will dare to bathe in the Jamna, which for centuries cleansed from sins and healed from diseases. The fetid and muddy sludge that fills its bed is so toxic that if it gets on the skin, it can cause burns and serious health problems. Samples taken near Delhi, near the Okla dam, show the highest degree of contamination of the reservoir, corresponding to category E, according to the five-step scale 1 adopted in the country. This means that the Jamna is the dirtiest river in India. Website It ranks 2nd in the list of the 10 most polluted rivers in the world, after the Citarum River in West Java.

The main polluter of Jamna was and still is Delhi. In 1911, when it was decided to move the capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi, there were 240 thousand inhabitants. Since India's independence in 1947, the population of Delhi has increased many times and now stands at 17.6 million people in the agglomeration.

High population growth rates have caused numerous problems - lack of household amenities, environmental pollution, unsanitary conditions, etc. Jamna provides only 70% of the city's water supply. In some areas, tap water is provided for as little as 15 minutes a day. Every day in the Indian capital, 8 thousand tons of dry waste are collected, which should be taken to 3 municipal landfills. But in the end, 57% of the garbage ends up in reservoir 3They dump it in the river, bypassing the landfills.

There are 1,080 slums in the metropolis, in which more than 4 million people eke out a miserable existence. On the eve of parliamentary elections, some of these ghettos are demolished, but they multiply like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Their existence is supported by a massive influx of migrants from the villages. Oases of poverty, crime and unsanitary conditions - slums-are deprived of drinking water, electricity and sewage systems. Streams of slops and sewage flow from them and residential areas of Old Delhi directly into the river.

Numerous industrial enterprises are contributing to the pollution of Jumna - the pride of India's rapid industrialization under the Government of Jawaharlal Nehru. They did not initially rely on sewage treatment plants for their projects. Tons of herbicides and pesticides are added to the river by the surrounding fields.

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And finally, it is impossible not to mention such a specific source of water pollution for India, such as animal and human corpses. They are thrown into the river by those who are burdened with the costs associated with cremation of bodies. The example of the poor is followed by relatives of those who died from asthma, tuberculosis, leprosy and snake bites, as well as relatives of "saints" who died babies. Superstition is deeply rooted in the people, and this must be taken into account, says environmentalist Anil Kumar Mishra4However, in this particular case, his point of view is very controversial.


All 22 km that the Jamna flows within the borders of Delhi, finally kill the river. The content of nitrates, fluorides, pesticides and heavy metals in water exceeds the permissible norms by tens or even hundreds of times. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the current in the city is very slow. Most of the year the water just stands there and is not renewed until the next monsoon season. The river surface is hidden by debris and multi-layered foam of white and yellow color.

This cocktail has a sickening smell. So whenever I have to cross a bridge in the north or northeast of Delhi, I try not to breathe or hold my nose with my fingers. My manipulations irritate the Indians. Once, a banana peel was thrown at me from a car window, which completely ruined my shirt.

The Delhi Water Board and 5 other government organizations are working on the problem of Jamna pollution. They are supported by various public foundations, including international ones-Pandit Ravi Shankar Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency and others. Over the past 18 years, between $650 million and $900 million have been spent on these purposes.5 But no matter what projects the authorities accept, and no matter how much money is allocated for them, the situation does not get better.

In this case, we need a comprehensive approach, a single plan and one responsible institution. In the meantime, it turns out, as in the proverb - "seven nannies have a child without an eye.".. The money allocated for cleaning up the river is spent on salaries and bonuses by numerous officials. Changes should not be expected until the river is no longer the cheapest and most convenient place to dump waste.

Some places in India are trying to solve the problem of urban unsanitary conditions, and in very unusual ways. Thus, speaking at a meeting on November 19, 2013 on the occasion of International Toilet Day, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, said that residents of the state will not be allowed to run for local government (panchayats) if their homes are not available... toilets. Today, 22 million families in Bihar, or about 65% of its population, do not have toilets in their homes. The Chief Minister promised a bonus of 500,000 rupees ($8,000) to those panchayats who manage to solve this problem.6

In addition to pollution, the Jamna is threatened with shallowing and - as a result-complete disappearance. In fact, the river began to become shallow in the 80s of the XIX century, which was associated with deforestation and the development of new farmland. 7 In the twentieth century, this process accelerated noticeably.

92% of the water consumed today is used for irrigation. Of these, 57% is used by the state of Haryana, whose farmers have switched to growing an elite variety of rice-basmati, which requires intensive irrigation. 8 Powerful irrigation channels West Jamna, East Jamna and Agra and numerous branch branches literally "absorb" the river, the water level in it is steadily decreasing. In the dry season, the Jamna near Agra can generally be waded without getting your knees wet. The river exists largely due to the right tributaries of the Chambalu, Sindhu, Betwe and Kenu, each of which is 700 - 1000 km long.


Shallowing of the Jumna and subsidence of the coastal pound threaten the destruction of the famous Taj Mahal complex. On October 5, 2011, the London Daily Mail warned of its possible destruction in the coming years. The newspaper cited the opinion of Brij Avasti, a well-known Indian historian, author of several monographs on the Ram Nath mausoleum and a high-ranking official of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Department.

The fact is that the additional stability of the structure is provided by a system of wells located under the stone platform of the mausoleum. They are lined with timber and filled with large pebbles and lime mortar. Wells must always be in water. Otherwise, the tree rots, crumbles to dust, and the platform settles 9.

However, the Archaeological Survey of India, specially created for the protection and study of ancient objects, does not share these concerns. The government is trying not to dramatize the situation around the world-famous monument protected by UNESCO. It is visited annually by more than 4 million tourists, including foreign visitors.

With a high degree of probability, we can assume that the agony of Jamna can give rise to many other problems.

However, quite recently there was a "light at the end of the tunnel". India's new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has promised to clean up the Jumna River and even make it navigable again. It remains to wait for this promise to be fulfilled.

Misra A.K. 1 A River about to Die: Yamuna // Water Resources. 2010, N 2. P. 491.


Dash S.K. 3 Climate Change // An Indian Perspective. New Delhi. 2007. P. 118 -

Misra A.K. 4 Op. cit. P. 496.


6 The Telegraph, 20.11.2013.

7 The Hindu, 2.3.2013.


Karavanov I. V. 9 Taj Mahal: The Dying Miracle / / Asia and Africa Today. 2014, N 1. (Karavanov I.V. 2014. Taj-Mahal: pogibayushcheye chudo // Aziya i Afrika segodnya. N 1) (in Russian)


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