Ammonia levels in Yamuna continue rising, industry emissions remain unchecked

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Ayesha Khan- 

New Delhi: Despite stern warnings by the Supreme Court to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) regarding control of increasing ammonia levels in Yamuna River, the levels are on the rise which is a cause of concern as it is extremely harmful for health of citizens.

Ammonia levels in Yamuna which provides water to around 70% of Delhi residents have reached an alarming rate which is 35 to 40 times beyond permissible limit.

According to a report by World Health Organization (WHO), ammonia can be toxic to human health if the consumption increases. It can also disturb the glucose tolerance, and reduces the tissue sensitivity to insulin. Common side effects of ammonia are that it causes irritation and burnings on skin.

“One of the major factors contributing to this is the industrial effluents which are left into the water without treatment. Despite having a set of guidelines for the industries for waste water management, many of them fail to adhere to them. Industries should use Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) before sending the waste into the water but most of them do not,” said Meenu Kapoor, water analyst in the treatment and quality control department of Delhi Jal Board (DJB).

Experts say that industrial effluents are not the only reason; the domestic drain system is another issue which has been neglected over the years. The septic tanks containing the domestic waste are continuously emptied in the water bodies. There are six water treatment plants in Delhi which can control the industrial effluents to a certain extent but it is not possible to treat the irregular drainage system.

Doctors say it is a cause for concern as ammonia in drinking water leads to rise of a number of health issues.

“Treatment of high levels of ammonia require complicated processes and machines which one cannot use at home but it is strictly advised to use RO purifiers for treatment of drinking water as the micro organisms and harmful particles are removed to a great extent. Apart from this I always suggest to not drink water from outside where the source of water is not known,” says doctor Sanchayan Roy, a physician in Delhi.

Delhi and Haryana governments play blame games on each other rather than addressing the issue.
“The Delhi Jal Board tries to treat as much water as possible but the untreated water coming from Haryana is the major problem,” said another official from the DJB

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had submitted an analysis report of ammonia level at Hathnikund barrage, ITO barrage, Wazirabad and Okhla water treatment plants. The level was the highest (24.9 ppm) at ITO. The permissible limit for ammonia is 0.2 ppm. The ammonia level at Hathnikund barrage was 0.6 ppm, 1.9 ppm at Wazirabad and 0.8 ppm at Okhla WTP in February.





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