Delhi govt deploys boats to clear toxic foam from Yamuna; decision slammed

Delhi govt deploys boats to clear toxic foam from Yamuna; decision slammed
: Devotees perform rituals in Yamuna river, covered by chemical foam caused due to industrial and domestic pollution, during Chhath Puja festival in New Delhi, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in New Delhi on Wednesday.(Photo: Wasim Sarvar/IANS)

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) Amid the Chhath Puja festival, the Delhi government on Wednesday morning deployed about 15 boats and water sprinklers to clear the toxic foam that gets formed by the high input of industrial pollutants into the Yamuna river, whose ghats (banks) are used by devotees for offerings to the Sun-God.

"Delhi government has deployed 15 boats to remove the foam that is forming in the Yamuna due to increasing pollution. The Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Revenue Department and Delhi Pollution Control Committee have taken this decision jointly," a government official told IANS. Visuals of clearing the foam from the river banks at Kalindi Kunj are being widely shared on social media in which a boat with a cloth tied in the back could be seen bringing foam out to the shore.

This decision of the Delhi government at the eleventh hour is being termed as a "face-saving exercise," by political parties, critics and environmentalists alike. "Delhi government is using water sprinklers to wash away the foam on Yamuna river. But this is only a cosmetic arrangement and does not address the root cause of the pollution. If they really intend to solve the problem, they must connect all the drains to Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and also ensure that the STPs are fully functional. Besides, the STPs must comply with all the scientific parameters set for treated water like faecal coliform, phosphate, etc," Environmentalist Vikrant Tongad said, adding, "We can't blame neighbouring states all the time."

The Delhi government has set up at least 800 ghats across the national capital for devotees to perform Chhath Puja. However, the main Chhath Ghat at ITO remains blocked as DDMA in its September 30 order barred the area, citing water pollution that is caused after immersion of prayer offerings as the main reason.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Parvesh Singh Verma entered the Chhath Puja Ghat at ITO despite barricading and poured water into the river. "MCD, DDA have given permission to celebrate Chhath... Why is the Delhi government not permitting us to celebrate Chhath at ITO, which is the oldest ghat in Delhi. Why are we being stopped? I urge everyone to come here, we will look after their safety," he said.

The festival which began on Monday with the 'Nahai Khai' ritual will conclude on Wednesday with devotees performing 'Usha Arghya' (prayers to the rising sun).