Delhi’s holy maa.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Every morning, after milking his buffalo, Pandit Sunil Kumar takes a ritual dip in the sacred Yamuna, also called Jamuna. Originating in the Himalayas, the river enters Delhi from the northeast of the city, near Palla village, and after 40 kms, it leaves the Capital region from near Jaitpur village in the south.
A Hindu priest, Mr Kumar has his ancestral home on a ghat in Jamuna Bazaar, a village on the river’s bank in north Delhi. The residence’s setting is idyllic. One can see the river while sitting in the courtyard. The bank on the other side is uninhabited. The Outer Ring Road is a 5-minute walk away, but there is no traffic noise here. In winter, Siberian cranes visit the river. In summer, you hear the squawking of ducks. From the priest’s courtyard, a short flight of stone stairs leads into the river, the water of which is blackened with Delhi’s sewage. “Since my body gets smelly after taking a dip in Jamuna,” says Mr Kumar, “I have to later take a shower under the hand-pump.”
Delhi generates 3,470 million litres of filth daily (MLD) into the river. But the city has a capacity to treat only 2.325 MLD. In 2009, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had said, “The Yamuna Action Plan I and II have not yielded the desired results despite crores of rupees being spent on them. Though teams were sent to see the Thames and Seine, it would take another seven-eight years for the Yamuna to be like them.”
Till as late as 1982, the river water was safe. “Then we used to cook our daal in its water,” says Mr Kumar. Here is The Delhi Walla’s homage to the city’s holy river.
The urban sensibilities
Oh, my river!
A sunny moment
Those who clean souls also clean clothes
A river man
My river, my faith