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Toxic foam covers a sacred river in India

(CNN) – As parts of a sacred river near the capital of India were covered with toxic foam, people gathered on its banks to celebrate the religious festival and some Hindu devotees bathed in the water.

White foam mixed with sewage and industrial effluent over the past week along the Yamuna River, a tributary of the holy Ganges River that flows through several states 1,376 kilometers south of the Himalayas.

Leaking foam contains high levels of ammonia and phosphate, which can cause respiratory and skin problems. According to experts. Their visit coincides with a festival called Sat Puja dedicated to the sun god Surya. Earlier this week, I was able to see some Hindus wandering through the poisonous foam bathing in the river and praying.

People bathe in the middle of a poisonous spray covering the Yamuna River on a smoky morning in New Delhi, India on November 8, 2021.

Devout Kunjan Devi said on Tuesday that she had no choice but to bathe in the polluted water.

“The water is very dirty, but we don’t have many options,” he said, according to Reuters. “Bathing in water is a ritual, so we’re here to bathe.”

According to the Press Trust of India, the government has sent 15 boats to remove the foam, but experts fear it has already caused significant damage.

“The Delhi stretch is an ecologically dead river,” said Bhim Singh Rawat of the South Asian Network for Dams, Rivers and Villages (SANDRP). “It’s not fish or freshwater birds. It’s been that way for years.”

Toxic foam floating in the waters of the Yamuna on November 8, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

Polluted rivers in India

For decades, parts of the Yamuna have been plagued by toxic chemical wastes and source effluents. In many areas, the river looks like a dark and muddy swamp, while plastic debris covers its banks.

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Due to the population density of Delhi and the high amount of waste, the river is highly polluted in the areas around Delhi. Only 2% of the river’s length flows through the capital, but contributes about 76% of the total pollution burden of the Delhi River. Government Monitoring Committee.

Devotees bathe in the toxic foam of the Yamuna River in New Delhi, India on November 9, 2021, before the Sat Puja.

According to SANDRP’s Rawat, the polluted river affects residents of several cities like Faridabad, Noida and Agra. “Thousands of villagers use the river for irrigation and they carry buckets to the river for bathing and drinking,” he said.

In 2017, a similar-looking foam appeared on Vardhur Lake in the southern city of Bangalore. Glittering chemical cocktails blew on the roads as the strong wind blew.

That same year, a lake in Bangalore caught fire, leaving oil traces in the water, according to experts.

With Reuters information.