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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In photos: Yamuna overflows with toxic froth, filth

Despite Central Pollution Control Board 2010 guidelines on idol immersion and the specific ban by the tribunal on immersion of non-biodegradable idols, there has been a complete failure on the part of the authorities to check the same.  

By: Express Web Desk | Updated: September 26, 2018 7:17:16 am
Formation of froth in the Yamuna, at Okhla Barrage, Pollution at Yamuna in New Delhi on Monday, September 24, 2018. Express photo by Abhinav Saha

River Yamuna is overflowing with bubbling thick foam and filth. Appearing like snow, the toxic froth is full of residential and industrial waste whose foul stench could be smelt from a distance. The river is spilling over and flowing above the danger levels after Haryana opened the Hathnikund barrage in the wake of heavy rains and flash floods in parts of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

The plight of the river worsened after thousands of broken or semi-dissolved idols of Ganesha made of Plaster of Paris and coated with toxic chemicals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and carbon were immersed in the Yamuna on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi which commenced late last month.

On September 24, The Indian Express photojournalist Abhinav Saha captured photographs and video of the pollution in the river.

Despite Central Pollution Control Board 2010 guidelines on idol immersion and the specific ban by the tribunal on immersion of non-biodegradable idols, there has been a complete failure on the part of the authorities to check the same. The guidelines suggest that idol immersion should be allowed only of such idols that are made from biodegradable material and not plastic/Plaster of Paris. Also, the idols should be painted in only those colours that are environment-friendly.

The river is spilling over and flowing above the danger levels after Haryana opened the Hathnikund barrage in the wake of heavy rains and flash floods in parts of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

In July, the water level of the Yamuna river had crossed the danger mark, prompting authorities to evacuate people living in the low-lying areas. The National Green Tribunal had also formed a monitoring committee on the cleaning of the Yamuna and directed it to submit an action plan on the issue. The green panel had said pollution in the Yamuna was of serious concern as it was highly contaminated with industrial effluents and sewage.

Thousands of idols — many of which are coated with toxic chemicals — are immersed in the river after Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

The bio-oxygen demand of the river, a measure of organic pollution, every year reaches “dangerously high levels” after Ganesh Chaturthi. Last year, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it had removed around 80 tonnes of debris dumped on the Yamuna floodplains after idol immersion.

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