Toxic froth made up of ammonia and phosphates covered the Yamuna’s waters in Delhi as Hindu devotees offered oblations to Surya, the sun god
This is the Yamuna river in the national capital of India. Devotees observed yet another Chhath standing amid toxic froth in the river on the evening of November 10. Their photographs raised a storm of controversy again about the ‘ecologically dead’ river. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi sprang into action November 10 and tried to dissipate the froth with water sprays as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked it. AAP leader Raghav Chadha blamed Delhi’s BJP-ruled neighbours Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for releasing effluents that caused the froth. The reality though is not so simple. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
Sushmita Sengupta, senior programme manager of the Water Programme at Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had told The Indian Express that the froth was caused at this time of the year due to the lean water flow in the river. After the construction of the Hathnikund barrage upstream in Haryana, the flow downstream is now just 160 cusecs, which cannot dilute effluents, which consequently build up in the form of foam. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
Effluents are discharged in the Yamuna from all its riparian states. According to the Monitoring Committee for the Rejuvenation of the River Yamuna in Delhi and the National Capital Region, the 22 kilometre stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi contributes to 76 per cent of the river’s total pollution load. According to its Fifth Report, industrial towns upstream such as Yamunanagar, Jagadhri and Panipat also release millions of litres of effluents every day into the river. Chadha has claimed that paper and sugar mills in western Uttar Pradesh towns such as Meerut, Shamli, Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar also do the same. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
The water-sharing agreement of 1994 among the Yamuna riparian states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi is not due for revision before 2025. So, we could be seeing images similar to these again next year. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
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