The ‘‘Save Yamuna’’ campaign in India seems all set to go high-tech. Satellite imagery is likely to be used for studying the quality of the river’s surface water and the quality of water in ponds in its flood plain. Taking a cue from Union tourism minister Jagmohan’s plan to beautify the Yamuna flood plain, the School of Environment Management (SEM) of the Delhi government’s Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University is also gearing up to use satellite-based data to suggest means for cleansing and beautifying the ponds along the Yamuna. ‘‘We may use aquaculture technology — introduction of fish or plants— in the dirty ponds. It w ng the quality of water in these ponds will be the next step,’’ she said.
The project along the 22-km-long stretch of the Yamuna flood plain will require satellite data as there are hundreds of ponds along the stretch. Kaur said the project will also be integrated with a plan for sustainable management of the flood plain. ‘‘Officials from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will also be involved in lifting samples from the ponds,’’ she said. Apart from the initial focus on ponds in the flood plain, the SEM students will also test the quality of groundwater in the plain. ‘‘Preliminary reports suggest that mercury and arsenic levels in the groundwater are more than the permissible limits,’’ Kaur said.
The studies on the groundwater quality are aimed at augmenting the water supply in the parched city. ‘‘The flood plain has potential areas for groundwater development and augmentation of raw water, but disposal of domestic and industrial waste in the river increases the chances of its pollution. This is why it has not been exploited to its potential,’’ said environment scientist Nasim Akhta.
Studies by the SEM students have revealed that in the groundwater samples collected from the flood plain, nickel, chromium, cadmium and lead are either absent or present in very low concentrations where as manganese and iron are present in almost all the samples. In 12 per cent of the samples, mercury has exceeded the limit as has arsenic in 6 per cent of the samples.