DELHI- Once again, a thick layer of toxic foam is covering parts of the Yamuna River near New Delhi. This comes as the city is dealing with a bad smog that’s settled over it.
The foamy mix, made up of sewage and industrial waste, is now on sections of the Yamuna River. This river is important as it flows from the Himalayas through many states. The foam smells bad and has stuff like ammonia and phosphates, which can cause respiratory and skin problems. The foam has shown up at the same time as a lot of pollution in New Delhi, making over 20 million people there sick. Schools and some offices have even had to close. A similar mix has been seen in a canal in Tamil Nadu in Southern India, with the wind blowing the foam onto roads and in front of cars.
For years, the Yamuna has had problems with toxic chemicals and untreated sewage. Some parts of the river look dirty and slimy, and there’s plastic trash along the sides. Even though only a small bit of the river is in Delhi, the city contributes a staggering 76% to its overall pollution, as reported by a government monitoring committee. Experts say the foam is often seen on the Yamuna, but people downstream still use the water to bathe and even drink.
Despite the foam and pollution, Hindu devotees keep doing their rituals in the river. They celebrate the Chhath Puja festival dedicated to the sun god Lord Surya, on the Yamuna’s banks every year, even walking through the foam to bathe and pray.
Now, on top of the foam, New Delhi is also dealing with a thick smog that’s making people worried. Many residents are buying air purifiers and wearing masks to stay safe. According to Swiss air quality company IQAir, New Delhi has persistently ranked as the most polluted city globally, reaching a hazardous air quality index (AQI) of 517 on Thursday. In stark contrast, Oslo, the least polluted city worldwide, boasts an AQI of merely three. While Beijing has significantly improved its air quality in recent years, with an AQI of 25, Kolkata and Mumbai, both Indian cities, still feature on the list of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, with AQI numbers of 205 and 102, respectively, categorizing them as unhealthy environments.