The Yamuna river, which originates 375km north of New Delhi, at the Yamunotri glacier in Uttarakhand, is relatively unpolluted until it enters the national capital.
According to a 2009 report by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, 80 percent of all the pollution in the river is dumped into it along only two percent of its total length – the 22km segment between the Wazirabad Barrage in the north of Delhi and the Okhla Barrage in the south.
Untreated sewage and industrial waste dumping into the river has turned it into a glorified drain, with various studies showing that the river water is not even fit for bathing.
In May this year, the government of Delhi shut down 112 illegal industrial drains, yet other illegal dumping still occurs from industries and neighbourhoods alike.
At Sarai Kale Khan, an urban village in south Delhi, people queue patiently for potable water barely 300 metres away from the river, yet they are forced to rely on a hand-pump for water.
The federal government initiated the first phase of the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) in 1993, to clean up the river. When the project did not meet its targets, a second phase was launched in 2004.
Phase III of the YAP was launched in December last year, but despite such efforts and hundreds of millions of dollars, massive amounts of waste continue to be dumped into the Yamuna every day, making it one of the dirtiest rivers in the South Asian country.