The Yamuna River Project is an inter-disciplinary research program whose objective is to revitalize the ecology of the Yamuna River in New Delhi, thus reconnecting India’s capital city back to the water.

The Challenge

New Delhi – as the capital city of the world’s largest democracy, with a population of almost twenty million – faces an unprecedented challenge: its sacred river, the Yamuna, is one of the most polluted in the world. The entire quantum of fresh water flowing into New Delhi is redirected to fulfill the fresh water requirements of the city. From the Wazirabad barrage where it enters the capital city , to the Okhla barrage where it exits in the south, the Yamuna consists of only treated and untreated sewage and other toxic effluent. The water to the north is rendered “dead”, with zero percent dissolved oxygen, posing serious health hazards to the citizenry of New Delhi.

The Reasons

The condition of the water in Delhi is an indicator of the last 150 years of urban development – a period during which the Yamuna and its tributaries have been erased from the consciousness of the city, becoming its backyard. This has become an unprecedented and urgent crisis of ecological inequality and a serious threat of the health of the entire population. In other words, the river itself is not the problem, so much as it is the symptom of broader social challenges. It can only be reversed by sustained remedial action, encompassing all the complex components of the city: social, cultural, health, economics, ecology, public space, public facilities, housing, governance, and infrastructures.

Hapur Bypass Trans-Yamuna Housing, Eric Barr. Fall 2014.

The Vision

The Yamuna River Project aims to be a catalyst for the urgent recovery of the Yamuna and its tributaries, building a publicly accessible body of information and expertise, and visions of what an alternative future could be.

Re-Centering Delhi, Joseph Brookover. Fall 2015.

Proposed Palam Drain Section, Laurence Holland. Fall 2016.

Shahadra Park, Brittany Duguay. Fall 2015.

The Yamuna River Project engages the efforts of government agencies, experts and activists, in India and internationally, in an ongoing investigation addressing the multidimensional challenges for the recovery of the relation between Delhi and its sacred River Yamuna.