- Hindon, an important river in the western region of Uttar Pradesh, has been one of the most polluted rivers in the region, for years, with no visible progress towards its cleaning.
- The river is contaminated with industrial effluents being discharged into it, particularly from leather, paint, pesticides and sugarcane units.
- The catchment area of the river falls in six parliamentary constituencies of western U.P. that are going to polls on April 11 in the first phase of the 2019 elections.
Hindon, a rainfed river in Uttar Pradesh, is a vital watercourse which provides water to millions of people who live in the 400 villages situated along its banks. The catchment area of the river falls in six parliamentary constituencies of western U.P. – Saharanpur, Baghpat, Meerut, Mathura, Ghaziabad, and the Gautam Buddh Nagar, bordering Delhi – that are going to polls on April 11 in the first phase of the 2019 elections.
The total number of voters in these constituencies is more than 10 million – many of whom are impacted by the state of the river that’s remained polluted for decades.
The river today is reduced to a drain of hazardous effluents, discharged by industries and sewage from homes. The state of this river – which originates from a small village Pur Ka Tanda, in the Shivalik hills around Saharanpur in western U.P. – has deteriorated in the last three decades, say locals.
“When we were young, we would bring our livestock here at the river. Our cattle would bathe in the river, and the water was so clean that we would also bathe here. Now I see it … It has completely ruined in front of my eyes,” said 43-year-old Yogendra Vidic, who lives in Maviklan village of Baghpat.
Hindon’s water is used for irrigation purposes in thousands of square kilometres of area along its course, but the main challenge is the impact of effluents from the leather, paint, pesticides and sugarcane units going into it.
The polluted water is not just affecting the people living in the villages alongside Hindon but is also contaminating the groundwater. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of other people in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring states are also indirectly impacted by the pollution in the river predictably because they consume vegetables and fruits grown in its toxic water.
Apart from the Hindon river, two of its tributaries, Krishna and Kali, also receive toxic chemical waste from the industrial units. One of the most striking sites is the Begrajpur nalla (drain) near Muzaffarpur which deposits tons of hazardous chemicals everyday in the river Kali.
“Hindon and both of its tributaries are highly polluted today,” said Vikrant Sharma, a lawyer and activist who is associated with a local movement Hindon Jal Biradari, a community initiative to save Hindon.
“Last year, the court (National Green Tribunal) had given orders to shut more than 100 units, but still the quality of water (of Hindon) is the same. There is no improvement, and the situation has become worse than before. It means they (administration) are not implementing the court’s order in a proper way,” he said.
In its recently released manifesto, the Indian National Congress party has stressed on cleaning of rivers if voted to power. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is part of the government both at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh, came out with its manifesto on April 8, 2019, but it only stressed on the cleaning of Ganga river.
“We have worked to improve the condition of rivers, canals and ponds. We have a dedicated ministry for this and we are working on Namami Gange programme. We are addressing the problem of sewage and chemical pollutants in Hindon. For that, our government has sanctioned Rs. three billion (Rs. 300 crores) for treatment plants to tackle pollution in Hindon,” said BJP spokesperson Charu Pragya.
“The project is in the process and the foundation stone has already been laid. It will control the sewage problem. To deal with industrial pollution, we have also created a dedicated monitoring cell that works under the pollution control department,” Pragya added.
Realising that if these rivers don’t survive, they won’t get safe water for drinking and agriculture, the villagers have now taken it upon themselves to spread awareness.
Slogans like “Gande ho gaye nadi naale, ab bano Krishna-Hindon ke rakhwale” (Rivers and streams are polluted, let us save the Krishna-Hindon now) can be seen in the western Uttar Pradesh region where the Hindon and its tributaries flow.