Devotees offer Arghya in foam soaked Yamuna

| | New Delhi
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Devotees offer Arghya in foam soaked Yamuna

Tuesday, 21 November 2023 | Staff Reporter | New Delhi

Unfazed by toxic foam floated on the banks of river Yamuna, hundreds of devotees offered Arghya to the rising sun on Monday morning, marking the conclusion of the four-day-long Chhath Puja festival. 

In pictures and videos shared on social media, large amounts of the toxic foam can be seen floating in the river as devotees stood knee-deep in it. The Pioneer has earlier reported the formation of toxic form in Yamuna ahead of the Chhath puja. The Delhi Government ministers had inspected several Chhath ghats in the city and had claimed to clear the foam floating in the river.

According to officials, the toxic foam is due to the high phosphate content in the river, which can cause skin and respiratory problems. A deep layer of toxic foam was visible on the surface of the Yamuna when  devotees were offering Arghya to the rising sun, marking the conclusion of the four-day-long Chhath Puja festival. Delhi Lt Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena took a swipe at the AAP government in the city over the condition of the polluted Yamuna river in which devotees performed the rituals of the Chhath puja.

In a series of posts on X, Saxena said, “Chhath festival concluded today with Arghya offered to Lord Sun. The Chhathi Maiya departed, but once again Yamuna river was left dirty and polluted. Devotees were once again forced to offer prayers amidst silt, debris and rot. Offering Arghya in the river was prohibited but Yamuna did not become clean.”

Taking a swipe indirectly at the Delhi Government, Saxena said, “Year after year. One promise after another. Froth, sewer, effluent remain unchecked. The floodplains get turned into dump yards and open toilets. COD/ BOD, Coliform, E Coli… all markers damn the river.” He also attached several photographs of the devotees offering prayers in the Yamuna with toxic foam floating alongside them. Saxena also attached several pictures of Yamuna on his handle.

Despite several promises made by Delhi’s Government to clean the Yamuna river, the polluting situation keeps making a comeback.  Meanwhile, AAP MLA and vice-chairman of Delhi Jal Board Somnath Bharti also inspected the Kalindi Kunj ghar and asserted that the foam is “harmless”.

The Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri has accused the Arvind Kejriwal government for mockery of the faith, sanctity, and religious dedication of the lakhs of people of Purvanchal.  “The Delhi government failed to make necessary arrangements for the Chhath puja. Chhath devotees offered ‘arghya’ to the sun amidst the toxic foam and polluted water of the Yamuna, breaking their 36-hour fast. Skin diseases, respiratory problems, and even cancer can result from this polluted water,” Bidhuri said

Bidhuri’s remark came after visuals of Yamuna Ghat at Kalindi Kunj surfaced on social media showing devotees standing in knee-deep water, performing rituals on Chhath, all while the toxic foam covered the surface of the Yamuna River.

BJP leader Shehzad Poonawalla accused Kejriwal of spending thousands of crores given by the Centre on advertisements or “doing corruption” instead of cleaning Yamuna. Poonawala said Kejriwal has failed to to fulfil his promise of making Yamuna clean.

“This is the Kejriwal Model... First, they made Delhi a gas chamber... Now we have to suffer from toxic water too. When devotees entered the water to offer ‘Arghya’ to God Sun on Chhath Pooja, there was poisonous and foamy water everywhere,” said Poonawalla.

The frothing on the Yamuna river in Delhi is an annual phenomenon during winters, indicating high levels of untreated sewage and industrial pollutants in the river’s water, according to experts. Froth is mass of small bubbles in liquid caused by agitation, fermentation, or salivating. 

The high level of phosphates in the Yamuna river is what causes such foam to build up. Phosphates and surfactants in untreated sewages from Delhi, Haryana and UP is another reason behind frothing in the river.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) which studied  the levels of phosphate and surfactants creating the white scum in the river, stated that their concentration high at most locations in the city. DPCC did not mention the safe water quality norm for phosphate and surfactants in its water quality report.

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