Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Water Quality Status of River Yamuna

Yamuna is the sub-basin of the Ganga river system. Out of the total catchment’s area of 861404 sq km of the Ganga basin, the Yamuna River and its catchment together contribute to a total of 345848 sq. km area which 40.14% of total Ganga River Basin (CPCB, 1980-81; CPCB, 1982-83). It is a large basin covering seven Indian states. The river water is used for both abstractive and in stream uses like irrigation, domestic water supply, industrial etc. It has been subjected to over exploitation, both in quantity and quality. Given that a large population is dependent on the river, it is of significance to preserve its water quality. The river is polluted by both point and non-point sources, where National Capital Territory (NCT) – Delhi is the major contributor, followed by Agra and Mathura. Approximately, 85% of the total pollution is from domestic source. 

River Yamuna is the largest tributary of the River Ganga. The main stream of the river Yamuna originates from the Yamunotri glacier near Bandar Punch (38o 59' N 78o 27' E) in the Mussourie range of the lower Himalayas at an elevation of about 6320 meter above mean sea level in the district Uttarkashi (Uttranchal). The catchment of the Yamuna river system covers parts of the states of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the entire state of Delhi. The river Yamuna traverses a distance of about 1370 km in the plain from Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh to the confluence with river Ganga at Allahabad. The major tributaries of the river are Tons, Betwa, Chambal, Ken and Sindh and these together contribute 70.9% of the catchment area and balance 29.1% is the direct drainage of main River and smaller tributaries. On the basis of area, the catchment basin of Yamuna amounts to 40.2% of the Ganga Basin and 10.7% of the country.


River Yamuna Analysis Report  (From April -2019)




Updated on 5th April, 2024


Water Quality of River Yamuna (March, 2020 (Pre-lockdown) and April, 2020 (Lock down)


Primary Water Quality Criteriafor Outdoor Bathing NotifiedUnder E(P)Rules,1986
Waterqualityof Yamuna
273 (-59.18%)
DO (mg/l)
460 (-66.40%)
488 (-43.32%)
Note:**Prelockdown(March04,2020)                                            ***Lockdown (April06,.2020)


Source: CPCB Annual Report 2020-21, Updated on 11th July, 2022


River Yamuna 'close to death': New study warns Delhi's waterway is 'toxic' even after treatment and should not be used for drinking or irrigation.


mailOnline India, 20 June, 2016


A new study has revealed that the Yamuna River in Delhi has almost ‘died’ - and there are no signs of healing as even after treatment, the water remains toxic and unfit for any purpose.


The study, published in International Journal of Engineering Sciences & Research Technology, stated: “Even expensive water treatment technologies are incapable of treating the polluted river water. And, the conventional water processes based on chemical filtration and biological treatment are not suitable for removing the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).”


Researchers collected and tested water samples from the Najafgarh drain, a nursing home drain out, the stream of the Yamuna near the Nizamuddin Bridge, Okhala barrage, and near the origin of Agra canal - all of which flow into the Yamuna.


The Yamuna River is a vital natural resource and the study also noted that an alarming amount of polluted water is supplied to the Agra canal for irrigating the agricultural lands of 638 villages.


“We investigated the impact of urban runoff on the water quality of the Yamuna River in Delhi, which flows into the Agra canal and is used for irrigation purposes.


"Results showed drastic variations in each of the water samples after treatment,” said R S Dubey, Department of Applied Chemistry, Amity University, Noida, the author of the study.


“Water pollution levels are higher by multiples than the limit prescribed by the pollution control authorities for irrigation. The water quality of Yamuna is polluted and not suitable for any other purposes,” he said.


Yamuna water is unusable for crop irrigation and should not be consumed, the study warned.


Water samples were analysed for various physio-chemical parameters such as pH, total suspended solids (TSS), total dissolved solids (TDS), total hardness (TH), total alkalinity (TA), biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), dissolved oxygen (DO), electrical conductivity (EC), chloride, sulphate, nitrate, toxic metals, and microbial population (MP) levels by following the standard method.


The water quality was good along areas where the river enters Delhi before the Wazirabad barrage.


While the optimum pH for river water is around 7.4, the study found that Mean pH of the Yamuna water varies from 7.5 to 11.8 at different sampling points.


Where BOD levels are high, DO levels decrease because the oxygen in the water is consumed by the bacteria.


“An experimental observation shows the DO as zero. The type of water in Delhi falls under ‘dead water quality’, thereby making it unfit for irrigation or any other domestic or industrial purpose,” said Dubey.


“Most of the rivers in the urban regions are the end points of waste water discharged from households and industries, which create major problem for river water quality management. The waste-water discharges contribute to significant river water degradation, reduce agricultural products quality, land fertility and ultimately affect public health,” said Dubey.


The study also found major groundwater pollution in the Yamuna riverbed.


The researchers have recommended industrial and untreated sewage waste to be checked immediately.


Commercial establishments on the Yamuna river bank must be monitored strictly by appropriate authorities, and they should change the present sewage treatment technology as soon as possible.


Source : Mail Online India, updated on November 25th, 2016

Water Quality status in Delhi stretch of Yamuna River


Highlights of the Yamuna River water quality monitoring in Delhi stretch based on monthly study carried out during the year 2014 and 2015 are as follows:


  • At Delhi Yamuna traverse a distance of about 46 Km.
  • Though its stretch between Wazirabad barrage to downstream Okhla baragge is less than 2% of the entire river stretch but it receives around 70% of the total pollution (BOD) load that received by the river causing sever pollution.
  • Water quality monitored in this stretch at 4 locations i.e. Palla (U/s of Wazirabad barrage), Nizamuddin Bridge, Okhala at Kalindi Kunj (Okhla U/s) and Okhala D/s.
  • The values of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) observed was well above the prescribed limit of 4.0 mg/l at Palla and is in the range from 5.5 – 15.5 mg/l.
  • DO in the river depletes significantly after Wazirabad barrage and remain critical in remaining part of the studied river stretch. The value of this parameter from Wazirabad D/s to Okhla barrage D/s, after joining Shahdara drain was observed in the range of 0.0 – 3.0 mg/l which reflects that DO is always violating the prescribed standard of 5.0 mg/l at Okhla D/s and 4.0 mg/l at other two locations.
  • Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) at Palla generally meets the prescribed standards of 3 mg/l and was found in the range of 1 – 8 mg/l. At Okhla D/s BOD values were found well above the limit of 3 mg/l and was in the range of 9-97 mg/l.
  • At remaining two locations i.e. Nizamuddin bridge and Okhla U/s where BOD is not a criteria parameter, its values were found in the range of 4 – 40 mg/l and 5- 37 mg/l respectively.
  • Total Coliform (TC) was found meeting the standard of 5000 MPN/100 ml at Palla on 14 out of 22 rounds of analysis and its values were ranged between 450 - 43000 MPN/100 ml. At Okhla D/s TC with significantly high counts i.e. 330000– 160000000 MPN/100 ml was always found violating prescribed standard of 500 MPN/100 ml.
  • At Nizamuddin bridge and Okhla U/s where TC is not a criteria parameter, its vales were quite high and ranged between 68000-170000000 MPN/100 ml.
  • Free ammonia (NH3) which is a criteria parameter for two locations i.e. Nizamuddin bridge and Okhla U/s, was found exceeding the prescribed limit of 1.2 mg/l except thrice at Nizamuddin Bridge and twice at Okhla U/s. At these locations values of this parameter was in the range of 0.4-24.7 mg/l.
  • At Palla free ammonia was in the range of Below detection limit (BDL) – 1.8 mg/l, whereas, at Okhla D/s it was in the range of 2.0 - 37.2 mg/l.
  • pH was the only parameter that meets the prescribed standards of 6.0 – 9.0 for Palla and 6.5 – 8.5 for the remaining three studied locations.
  • The reason of deterioration of Yamuna River water quality in Delhi stretch especially after Wazirabad barrage is due to unabated discharges of wastewater predominantly from domestic sources into the river. The other reason is the nonavailability of fresh water in the river after Wazirabad barrage especially during non-monsoon period, which is essential to maintain self-purification capacity of the river.


                                        Water quality of river Yamuna in terms of BOD


Discharge and pollution load contributed by major drains in river Yamuna at NCT- Delhi


  • There are twenty one major wastewater drains in NCT-Delhi, out of which 18 drains join Yamuna River and rest joins Agra/Gurgaon canal.
  • All the drains join Yamuna River downstream of Wazirabad barrage.
  • These drains are being monitored regularly on monthly basis.
  • The range of total BOD Load of 18 drains join Yamuna river was 105 TPD (August, 2015) to 214 TPD (March, 2015).
  • Total discharge of these drains was varied from 30m3 /s (March,2015) to 42 m3 /s (February, 2014).
  • The collective average of these drains for the year 2014 and 2015 in terms of discharge was about 36.3 m3 /s and 34.8 m3 /srespectively whereas, BOD load average for these two years was 163 Tons/day (TPD) and 164 Tons/day respectively.
  • Based on the Discharge and BOD load of 18 drains Najafgarh drain was the biggest polluter of Yamuna River followed by Shahadara drain. These two drains alone contributes about 73% of total Bod load and 81% of total discharge of the 18 major drains that join Yamuna river at Delhi.

Source : Centeral Pollution Controle Bord , Updated on November 25th, 2016