Polluted Water of the Yamuna in Vrindavan not Treatable anymore – 5 Feb 11


In our local newspaper I read that the water pollution of the Yamuna is so high that it is now not anymore possible to treat its water in a way that it can be supplied as drinking water in Vrindavan and Mathura.

The Yamuna is, after the Ganges, the second most important river of India. It has its source in the Himalayas and after flowing through the country for 1400 kilometers, its waters mix with the river Ganges. The Yamuna flows through the capital Delhi before surrounding Vrindavan on three sides and flowing past Mathura in direction Agra. All along its way, people depend on its water. They need the Yamuna to water their fields but also to get drinking water. In water treatment plants, the water is cleaned and treated so that it can be mixed with groundwater and supplied to towns and cities. 70% of Delhi’s water supplies are treated Yamuna water.

Unfortunately however, Delhi also dumps approximately 58% of its waste into the Yamuna and thus pollutes the water that much that the Yamuna is now one of the most polluted rivers in the world. India manages to pollute this water in a way that makes it impossible now for treatment plants further down the river, to get it clean again. Until now, they have been using, as usual, chlorine and alum to purify the water and then mixed the purified river water with groundwater before supplying it to the homes in Vrindavan and Mathura. They had more and more difficulties to reach the level of purification which is required to use the water. In the last months they have used 100 ppm (parts per million) chlorine and 70 ppm alum which is the double amount of what is normally used but still, the water is not clean.

You can imagine then how much dirt and how many chemicals are in the water which many people here in Vrindavan drink each day! At the Ashram we drink bottled mineral water, which also the participants of our retreats and all other visitors get, and every drop of water which is used in the kitchen goes through a separate filter which again purifies the water as much as possible. In this way we are sure that our water is not polluted but none of the poor families of our school children has the money for such a water filter, not to mention bottled water. They cannot afford to make their water cleaner and so they have to drink what they get! There are already statistics that imply that this has increased stomach diseases with the inhabitants of Mathura and Vrindavan. The water supply of the area will now fully depend on ground water.

Isn’t it unbelievable that we pollute this river so much that we get ill and die if we drink its water? And the Yamuna is not the only river which is that bad, the Ganges is in a similar situation. Of course the government has made plans and campaigns for cleaning both rivers and has spent more than 370 Million US-Dollar in this cause.

They planned on improving the treatment plants and the sewage system that directs the waste into the rivers but unfortunately the rivers have not got any cleaner until now. Due to corruption a lot of the money which the government made available, reached nowhere near the rivers.

People should not only try to improve the purification of the water, they have to stop putting all those industrial waste into the river! If we pollute nature, our rivers, our air and our earth in this way, we will only make ourselves ill! We will be the ones who will suffer from the consequences.

Many of my readers may wonder why exactly I am writing about this. Maybe they have nothing to do with the Yamuna and maybe never even heard of it before. For me however it is painful to read this as I have spent many days of my childhood playing at the banks of the Yamuna and swim in its water around Vrindavan. We even drank this water, just as it was. It hurts to see the current state of this formerly beautiful river.

Spiritual people here see the Yamuna as a holy river but they don’t see the actions that pollute its water. If, instead of only worshipping the Goddess of the river by rituals at the riverside, they could also take some real action against its pollution, it would help the river, its water and ultimately the whole country much more than any ritual could do.

11 Replies to “Polluted Water of the Yamuna in Vrindavan not Treatable anymore – 5 Feb 11”

  1. You said it well Swami ji, when I was visiting Vrindavan I was also at the Yamuna where I saw many different groups were doing ceremony and rituals. After that they put all the rests into the river. There was cotton, burned lamps, flowers, milk, cloth, food, fruits, plastic bags etc. I was so unhappy to see that, I left the place. The most angry I was when the priest said “Oh, the Yamuna is our mother, please donate for her!”
    I felt very bad about it. Like him there are many people who only make money and pollute the Yamuna more and more.

  2. Thank you for writing this! I always think about this situation when we are in Vrindavan and take our daily walk tho the river. I see the farmers watering their fields with the water, so the chemicals are not only in the drinking water but also in the wheat, vegetables and herbs as coriander! It is a really sad story and I hope it will change….

  3. Eleven years ago i was in Vrindavan and remember that a group named”Friends of Vrindavan” was quite active trying to establishan “eco-friendly” consciousness around town,including cleaning the waters of Yamuna river. Sadly some of the biggest resistance was coming from well-established ashrams and temples, who’d only care about their own premises.I hold nothing against the rituals etc. but
    it’s about time to walk hand-in-hand with modern ecological approaches, so that “sattva” may prevail after all.

  4. Swami ji.. thank you for sharing.. what can we do to help…this is so sad… I agree wholeheartedly.. What better way to appease the devi shakti than to serve.. clean the river … How can I help .. I’m sending prayers and heartfelt intention to purify and cleanse the Yamuna…

  5. I ask myself also the same question but find myself helpless because there nobody can do anything alone. This needs a revolution in those people’s minds who are responsible for this. They need to understand and be active to save nature and keep it clean.

  6. This post made me think and understand that despite all the great core wisdom of Hinduism, it seems to lack a crucial feature which is core and basic to much Native American spirituality, which is that Nature is a sacred living being which must be respected in its sacredness here and now on a day to day basis as part of everyday life. Hindus seem to have much more abstract concepts of sacredness in nature. The river there, for example, is apparently viewed as sacred only as an ideal abstraction, not sacred as a material reality in the here and now. It’s hard to imagine that Native Americans even now, if they remain true to their spiritual principles, would ever treat a body of water that they regard as sacred as a sewer and a garbage disposal, as the Yamuna is treated there. Native Americans even now are horrified at this way of treating nature. So you’ve made me think about Hindu values, and what seems to be greatly lacking and missing in them, which should be at the core of any sacred value system, in my view, and that is that mother earth should be respected as a sacred living thing, not just as an ideal abstraction, but in the practices of everyday life, as a material reality in the here and now.

  7. Of course this was the basic Hindu idea, you should take care of the rivers, trees and mountains to which you pray. But these days, this religious aspect and these rituals have taken a strange turn. They have become commercial, a source of earning money and have turned into something that you can sell. The old rituals got changed, the form is fully different now, so that the priests can earn money. Instead of going to a mango tree to worship there, people now buy a small mango tree, bring it to their home and the priest comes and does the ceremony with them there. And of course, when money is concerned, spiritual questions are not that important anymore. If there is a factory that has waste, they don’t think of the holiness of the river before they dump it in.
    Unfortunately we live in this situation and have to start doing something against this crime on nature.

  8. It is possible, if the political will is there.
    I live in Stockholm, which is the capital of Sweden. It is a big city, although very small compared to the big cities of India. But Stockholm is basically a town surrounded by water.

    In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the water of Stockholm was incredibly dirty, polluted to a hellish degree. But the local government decided to change that, and changed the whole system of purifying water, sour systems and all.

    15-20 years later, the water was drinkable. And it still is. People come from the suburbs to swim in the summer – we have parks with beaches in the middle of town! And some people regularly stand on the bridges of central Stockholm with fishing rods, hopefully catching their dinner.

    So it can be done.

    But, as I said, the political will to act must emerge. In other words, one has to influence politicians that they have something to gain from working in this direction.

  9. Yes Calle, actually in Germany they had the same problem with the Rhine river and with changes and laws of the government it became so clear that you can go for swimming in some areas now.So it is possible but it really needs bigger action from above and most of all less corruption. Unfortunately so much money goes in so many different pockets that they just cannot make a big change.
    So more than one change is necessary, politics and politicians have to change first.

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