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House of Commons Hansard
02 July 2019
Volume 662

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom ,

Declares that the Yamuna is worshipped by millions and is considered a holy river; the residents of the United Kingdom recognise the work of the Save Yamuna campaign and request that the British Prime Minister work with the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and the Indian Government to treat their industrial and domestic waste and not pour treated or untreated waste water into the Yamuna river and necessarily ensure that adequate natural flow of fresh water throughout the stretch, which starts from Yamunotri to Allahabad.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to assist the Indian government and take into consideration that there is a dire need to save the Yamuna river and remove toxic waste.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Keith Vaz , Official Report, 4 June 2019; Vol. 661, c. 2P .]


Observations from theMinister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin):

The impact of pollution from waste, industrial chemicals and plastic is having an impact on all of us, disproportionately affecting the poorest communities in the world. Declining water quality is a significant challenge faced by many developing countries and this, amongst other challenges such as floods and droughts, contributes to ill health and poverty. Like the Petitioners, the Department for International Development (DFID) champions the importance of saving our natural resources and combating toxic waste. We note with particular concern the drought currently affecting millions of people in India.

While we do not currently work on decontamination of the Yamuna river specifically, DFID has a number of programmes that focus on water pollution such as our Water Security Programme, which helps developing countries to promote sustainable and responsible water management and to bring together industries, communities and Governments to take collective action to address challenges such as pollution.

India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have funded a joint programme on India-UK water quality to develop understanding of the sources and fate of different pollutants, and by supporting the development of management strategies and technologies to reduce pollution levels. The UK contributes £4.2 million to this programme, which is then matched in research by DST. The aim of this programme is to provide policymakers, regulators, businesses and local communities with information and solutions that will help them tackle India’s water quality issues and secure the provision of clear water, rejuvenate rivers, and restore ecosystems. This will be achieved by supporting research to improve understanding of the sources, transport, transportation, interactions and fate of pollutants, and determine the risks they pose to both people and the environment. Importantly, the joint programme will also develop new management strategies and technologies to clean-up water courses and enable better monitoring of pollution levels.

India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT), UKRI’s Innovate UK, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are working on a joint programme (worth £9.9 million) through the Newton Bhabha Fund on Biotechnological Solutions for tackling industrial waste and facilitating academic and industrial collaboration to help address industrial waste. This programme also aims to improve value recovery from waste by using biotechnology across large industrial sectors in India. Projects supported by the programme are exploring a number of approaches to help cut waste and pollution—for example: using bio-refining techniques to recover value from industrial, waste; transforming mixed solid waste into high-value chemical products; turning paper-mill waste into chemical wealth; cutting waste produced by sugarcane processing; and extracting value from waste generated by the sugarcane sector and associated industries.