EGU24-18023, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Urbanization and River Health: Analyzing the Effects of Land Cover Change on the Upper Yamuna Basin

Neenu Neenu and Mitthan Lal Kansal
Neenu Neenu and Mitthan Lal Kansal
  • Water Resources Development and Management, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, Roorkee, India (

Rapid urbanization and intensive agricultural practices have resulted in considerable changes in land use and land cover (LULC), underscoring the paramount significance of land cover analysis and change detection assessments for river ecosystems. The Yamuna River, a major tributary of the Ganges, is notably polluted, particularly in the Delhi region3. Thus, the compromised Yamuna River's health in Delhi necessitates an intricate exploration of land change intensity. In this context, the study seeks to enhance comprehension of landscape changes in the urbanized expanse of Delhi and scrutinize their repercussions on the Yamuna River. The Land Change Intensity (LCI) analysis, covering the period from 2016 to 2023, was conducted to examine the evolving dynamics of Delhi's temporal and spatial land use patterns. The LCI analysis assesses land use changes by examining the rate of overall change and the patterns of land transitions, determining their consistency across different time periods1. The findings of the study reveal prominent land use changes, with notable expansions into built-up and agricultural areas, resulting in encroachments upon barren land and green areas. During the period, an observable transformation in land cover was discerned, with 12% for built area and a concurrent 10% for crop area. The period also witnessed a 13% decrease in barren land alongside a 5% reduction in green spaces. The land use changes, particularly the expansion of urban areas, adversely affect the Yamuna River's health through a surge in water demand, reduction in capacity for pollutant absorption, extensive agricultural practices involving fertilizer use, and the occurrences of extreme events like floods2. Moreover, the visible and persistent foam formation in the Yamuna River is primarily attributed to urbanization and agricultural activities occurring in the Delhi stretch of the river4. Therefore, there is an urgent need to establish an equilibrium between developmental pursuits and environmental conservation for the holistic well-being of the river ecosystem. Through this study, we corroborate that the encroached floodplain of the Yamuna River in Delhi can be effectively utilized for phytoremediation. Such techniques would facilitate biotic absorption and neutralization of agricultural effluents and emerging pollutants like surfactants.

Keywords: Delhi, Land Change Intensity (LCI), LULC, Phytoremediation, Yamuna River


1. Aldwaik, S. Z., and R. G. Pontius. 2012. "Intensity analysis to unify measurements of size and stationarity of land changes by interval, category, and transition." Urban Plan., 106 (1): 103–114. Elsevier B.V.

2. Kumar, M., M. Sharif, and S. Ahmed. 2020. "Impact of urbanization on the river Yamuna basin." J. River Basin Manag., 18 (4): 461–475. Taylor & Francis.

3. Rajan, S., and J. R. Nandimandalam. 2024. "Environmental health risk assessment and source apportion of heavy metals using chemometrics and pollution indices in the upper Yamuna river basin, India." Chemosphere, 346 (May 2023): 140570. Elsevier Ltd.

4. Sejwal, G., and S. K. Singh. 2023. "Perspective: The unexplored dimensions behind the foam formation in River Yamuna, India." Sci. Pollut. Res., 30 (39): 90458–90470. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

How to cite: Neenu, N. and Kansal, M. L.: Urbanization and River Health: Analyzing the Effects of Land Cover Change on the Upper Yamuna Basin, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18023,, 2024.