Waiting for rains – and salvation

Panipat (Haryana): The Yamuna river has been reduced to a thin stream here and that has given rise to a strange, new custom. As the river has completely dried up, people who come to the river bank to perform the last rites of their family members are now burying their remains in the sand, hoping that the remains will become part of the river when it begins to flow again in two months’ time.

Even bathing not possible

The 125-kilometer long stretch of the river passing through Karnal, Panipat, and Sonepat has completely dried up, with only small patches of stagnant, black water here and there. Even bathing is no longer possible in the river.

Praveen, who arrived at the river to perform his father’s last rites on May 5, said that he was not able to complete the last rites because the river was dry.  But as he cannot take the remains back with him, he buried them in the river bed.


Pandit Akhileshwar Shukla says that many communities have a deep connection with the Yamuna. The Yamuna joins the Ganga at Allahabad.  Shukla said that people believe that their dead will attain salvation once their remains flow into the  Ganga.

1800 cusecs of water required

The Yamuna flows uninterrupted only till Hathinikund barrage. At present, only 1348 cusecs of water flows through the barrage while 1800 cusecs is required to keep the Yamuna waters flowing.

From Hathinikund, 352 cusecs of water is released in the Yamuna and 881 cusecs of water is supplied for Delhi in Munak Canal. The rest of 115 cusecs comes in the share of Haryana.

Why is the river dry?

  • Depleting natural sources.
  • As many as 20 western disturbances happened during April-May. As the temperature remained low, less than normal quantities of snow melted and the water flowing into the river from the mountains decreased.
  • Illegal mining has created several large pits in the river bed that block the r stream.