Green Blue Options for the Dead Delhi River

Hindon Cut just before entering the Yamuna in Delhi

Hindon cut just before entering the Yamuna in Delhi

India Habitat Centre is hosting a summit titled ‘Alternate Urban Futures for India’ later in this month. There is a lovely exhibit creating a future for reclaiming the nullah that is the Yamuna river from dirty sewage carrying drains, to cleaning it up by setting pipelines that will transport drain water away from the river to large sewage treatment plants. While this could be a solution, the last mile connectivity is still a challenge the solution for which may be found during the Summit. After all, the ‘Summit has been designed as a communication vehicle to position key policy issues and to highlight opportunities for positive change by showcasing community-oriented community urban regeneration projects.’

I have always argued for empowering and enabling people to create and maintain sustaiable infrastructure. I want to share an interesting lake project in Hyderabad city in the Banjara Hills locality there. Hyderabad has had a history of scanty rainfall, so the past rulers had created a chain of over 300 plus lakes, by putting check dams along the river flow. As the city grew, these lakes got polluted due to garbage and sewage disposal. One such lake is located in Banjara Hills locality.

The residents of the Cooperative housing society took initiative to clean up the polluted lake. They got it dredged and created a small garden in the vacant land surrounding the lake. They put a compound wall along the lake to protect illegal encroachments. They created a lovely walking path all along the lake. The water from upstream flows through different grasses typical of wetlands. The grasses act as a biofiltration mechanism absorbing sewage and other pollutants. Thus the water that finally emerges is crystal clear and clean. This clear water flows over the dam, creating a small cascading water fall and it is a beautiful sight. There is a walking path very creatively designed so that a visitor can experience the different sights that the lake has to offer. It is so beautiful that I visited it morning and evening every day of my stay.

Imagine the possibility of replicating it for the Yamuna flowing through Delhi instead of the large sewage carrying pipelines and large sewage treatment plants that it will only make the river more alien and invisible.


Environmental anthropologist by training, been in the field for over 20 years, Gialome (pseudonym) is mainly concerned with the impacts of infrastructure and technology projects on local communities.

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