Yamuna churns yearly toxic froth ahead of Chhath Puja as AAP and BJP play tu-tu-main-main

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulNov 16, 2023 | 16:06

Yamuna churns yearly toxic froth ahead of Chhath Puja as AAP and BJP play tu-tu-main-main

Photo: Hardik Chhabra/India Today

Forget about the usual flowers and incense – this Chhath Puja, the Yamuna is serving its annual cocktail of frothy industrial waste and sewage, garnished with a toxic foam that has turned the sacred river into a not-so-holy mess. 


The lifeline for the Indian capital of Delhi and a tributary of the Ganges, has become the centre of a political maelstrom as the city grapples with the toxic repercussions of industrial and sewage pollution just days ahead of the Chhath Puja celebrations. 

Workers preparing for Chatt Pooja at Yamuna Ghat near Kalindi Kunj, on November 15. Photo: Getty Images

The acrid froth, laden with ammonia and phosphates, poses significant health risks, including respiratory and skin problems, compounding the already dire air quality crisis in New Delhi.

As the city contends with hazardous pollution levels, exceeding permissible limits, the toxic foam adds another layer of environmental distress.

Photo: India Today

AAP response

On a mission to rescue the Yamuna from this ghastly amalgamation of waste, Delhi Minister Atishi Marlena boldly declared that the toxic froth would be cleared in the next one or two days.

  • However, she pointed a finger at the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh government, demanding they put a plug on their dirty water contributions to the frothy fiesta.

As if Delhi's air quality wasn't putting on enough of a show, the Yamuna's toxic foam has barged in just in time for the Chhath Puja celebrations.

  • The upcoming four-day festival, during which devotees fast and offer prayers to the Sun God, has added urgency to the situation. 
  • Atishi assured that arrangements had been made for devotees during the festival, slated to commence on November 17. 

However, the environmental concerns have sparked a political blame game.


  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) voiced apprehensions about the impact of the toxic foam on Chhath celebrations. 
  • Manoj Tiwari, the Member of Parliament from North East Delhi, attributed the pollution to the Najafgarh drain, advocating for the designation of cleaner sections of the river in Haryana for prayer activities. 
  • Tiwari defended the sanctity of Chhath as a festival of nature and criticised those branding it as a pollutant to the river.

The BJP's concerns were echoed by Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva, who pointed out the disturbance caused to Purvanchali migrants preparing for Chhath by the foam spread over the Yamuna.

Even the Delhi Congress Chief, Arvinder Singh Lovely, joined the chorus, accusing the government of splurging on publicity stunts while neglecting the Yamuna cleanup. Thousands of Poorvanchalis, he lamented, would now be forced to perform the Chhath Puja in what can only be described as a polluted bubble bath.


Delhi Jal Board responds

In a somewhat foamy response, the Delhi Jal Board plans to deploy defoamers at the Okhla barrage, presumably hoping to turn down the froth volume in the Yamuna.

Sun rises above the polluted waters of river Yamuna amid heavy smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 13. Photo: Getty Images

As the toxic Yamuna River takes centrestage in political discourse, the forthcoming Chhath Puja celebrations are overshadowed by environmental concerns, emphasising the pressing need for coordinated efforts to address the pollution crisis in the region.

Last updated: November 16, 2023 | 16:09
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