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Post-Diwali cracking celebrations, Delhi’s air quality has gone down to dangerous levels. The city has been enveloped by a thick layer of smog for nearly a week and it’s only now that visibility is getting better. However, the particulate matter has slightly worsened compared with yesterday. For days now, Delhi residents on social media have been complaining of irritation in throat and eyes because of pollution and it doesn’t seem to get better.
On November 7, a picture was clicked by Indian Express photojournalist Abhinav Saha, which has become symbolic of how polluted the Capital is. The picture, which shows toxic froth on the river Yamuna coming towards devotees who had gone to pray to the sun god as part of the Chhath festival, was clicked early in the morning at Okhla Barrage. People half-immersed in water were waiting for the sun to rise and had little option but to immerse themselves in the ‘unholy’ polluted water.
“There was a man standing in the middle of the water to constantly clear the froth which was 5-6 ft high and while the toxic froth is part of the river now, it looks more prominent here because the sun didn’t show for last two days because of pollution,” says Saha, describing the setting of the iconic picture.
Even since the photo was first published by IndianExpress.com, it has been shared, tweeted, Facebooked and Instagrammed countless times various media platforms, and even re-published by other media sites. “It took a minute to fully comprehend this photo. Just sad!” wrote a user on one of the posts. “Doomsday is not far away if ya’ll don’t stop fossil fuels consumption right now. It’s about time we start reducing our carbon footprint,” wrote another.
Artistically speaking, Saha said the photo shows development, devotion and pollution in the bridge, devotees and water, respectively. “Where are we headed?” he asks.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government listed out measures to be implemented to tackle the worsening air quality in the city. A complete ban will be imposed in the city on crackers, other than for religious functions. The government has also decided to disallow overloaded, non-destined trucks into the city to reduce traffic congestion. The government has put a stoppage on all construction activity in Delhi till November 14 and all pollution creating industries will also be shut down.