Rise in Ammonia Level in Yamuna


    In News

    • Water production was hit due to heavy sewage and industrial discharge from Haryana.


    • Recently, ammonia levels shot up to 3 ppm (parts per million), forcing water treatment plants to reduce operating capacity by 50%.
    • The acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water is 0.5 ppm, as per the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

    Causes of Pollution

    • Mixing of drains:
      • Mixing of two drains carrying drinking water and sewage or industrial waste, or both.
    • Industrial Pollution:
      • The Yamuna flows into Delhi from Haryana and the state has industrial units on the banks of Yamuna.
      • Ammonia is used as an industrial chemical in the production of fertilisers, plastics and dyes.
    • Natural sources of ammonia: 
      • Decomposition or breakdown of organic waste matter, gas exchange with the atmosphere, forest fires, and nitrogen fixation processes.

    Effects of Rising Ammonia

    • Biochemical oxygen Demand:
      • Ammonia reduces the amount of oxygen in the water as it is transformed into oxidised forms of nitrogen. 
      • Hence, it also increases Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).
        • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) represents the amount of oxygen consumed by bacteria and other microorganisms while they decompose organic matter under aerobic (oxygen is present) conditions at a specified temperature.
    • Biomagnification and Bioaccumulation
      • If the concentration of ammonia in water is above 1 ppm, it is toxic to fish.
      • In humans, long term ingestion of water having ammonia levels of 1 ppm or above may cause damage to internal organs.

    Steps taken earlier

    • Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti v. Union of India case
      • SC directed that the purpose of setting up Common Effluent Treatment Plant and Sewage Treatment Plants plants.
        • The state government will prioritise such cities, towns and villages, which discharge industrial pollutants and sewer directly in rivers and water bodies.
    • Constitutional Provisions
      • Article 243W of the Constitution vests municipalities and local authorities with the performance of functions and implementation of schemes 
        • as may be entrusted to them, including those in relation to the matters listed in item 6 of the 12th schedule.
        • Item 6 of the Schedule includes “public health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management”.
      • Article 21
        • The right to clean the environment, and further, pollution-free water, have been protected under the broad rubric of the right to life.

    Way Ahead

    • Ozone-based treatment units 
      • It can treat ammonia levels up to 4 ppm 
      • The DJB at present does not have any specific technology to treat ammonia.
    • Reduce pollution at source
      • The only long term solution is to have proper sewage treatment plants at the source itself.
      • Mixing of drains should also be checked.
    • Proper infrastructure
      • The laying of a conduit pipeline to separate drain carrying potable water and sewage water.
      • The National Green Tribunal-appointed Yamuna Monitoring Committee also suggested fast-track approvals to build a conduit.
    • Ecological Flow 
      • This is the minimum amount of water that should flow in the river at all times.
        • Maintaining a sustainable minimum flow would sustain underwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods.
      • The Yamuna Monitoring Committee recommended to the Ministry of Jal Shakti to rework the 1994 water-sharing pact 
        • A pact between Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and UP to revive the river by releasing more freshwater into it.



    • Chemical formula: NH3
    • It is a colourless gas.
    • Used as an industrial chemical in the production of fertilisers, plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes and other products.


    • It is a major tributary of the river Ganges.
    • It originates from the Yamunotri glacier near Bandarpoonch peaks in the Mussoorie range of the lower Himalayas in Uttarakhand.
    • It meets the Ganges at the Sangam in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh after flowing through Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.
    • Important Dams on the Yamuna 
      • Lakhwar-Vyasi Dam (Uttarakhand), 
      • Tajewala Barrage Dam (Haryana) etc.
    • Its tributaries
      • Chambal, Sindh, Betwa, Ken, Tons, Hindon.

    Source: TH