The Betwa originates from groundwater recharge near Jhiri village (50 km from Bhopal) in the Vindhyas. After flowing 216 km in Madhya Pradesh it enters Uttar Pradesh and meets the Yamuna River at Ghatampur (near Hamirpur). It is 573 km long with a total catchment area of 4.9 m ha. Rampant violations of environmental norms by industries and gross negligence on the part of MPPCB are the main cause of river pollution.
The river is mainly polluted by the industrial and urban wastes from Mandideep, Bhopal, Vidisha and Raisen. The river receives a BOD load of 37,000 kg from urban and industrial sources and 220 kg from rural sources. The discharge from Bhopal alone is approximately 11,000 cum of wastewater, which has a BOD load of 1200 kg a day.
The water in the upper reaches of the river, where industrial estates in Bhopal and Raisin districts let out their effluents into the river, is polluted with a heavy load of inorganic constituents. Test conducted by NEERI in 1997 revealed that the water quality of the river is so bad that it cannot be used even for irrigation purposes. The Betwa River has been selected by the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) for cleaning and pollution control.