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.
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.
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.
#WATCH | On cleaning of river Yamuna ahead of Chhath, Delhi Minister Atishi says, "To remove that (toxic foam), sprinkling of food-grade chemicals and enzymes is being done there. The sprinkling team started the sprinkling work on 10 boats last night. In the next two days, the… pic.twitter.com/uXD3cv8UnS— ANI (@ANI) November 16, 2023
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.
However, the environmental concerns have sparked a political blame game.
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.
Delhi wallahs, medias, Netas will not talk about 3.3 crore people with 1.3 crore vehicles in 1,483 square Km, & the climatic conditions, which contribute towards #air pollution. But will blame farmers at the drop of a hat— Ramandeep Singh Mann (@ramanmann1974) November 3, 2023
Thank god, farmers r not blamed for pollution in Yamuna ! pic.twitter.com/DAq8zRImEZ
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.
VIDEO | "Lakhs of people are forced to go to their hometowns for 'Chhath Puja' celebrations because the government has failed to clean the Yamuna River. The Puja Samitis are now preparing the facilities for the Chhath celebrations. The work which should have been done by the… pic.twitter.com/ExnbzepvIo— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) November 14, 2023
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.
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.