The Yamuna River is one of North India’s most important water sources and the largest tributary of the Ganga. In Delhi alone, its waters are responsible for sustaining the lives of millions. Unfortunately, industrial pollution and human apathy have led to this once pristine river looking like a dystopian hellscape instead. A few days ago, on November 1, the waters of the Yamuna were covered in toxic foam, a phenomenon that has been recurring in recent years. Experts believe that the reason for the creation of toxic foam is a high phosphate content caused by the presence of industrial pollutants.
— ANI (@ANI) November 4, 2020
The re-emergence of toxic foam on the Yamuna’s surface coincides with a period of increasing air pollution in Delhi. As per the Air Quality Index, Delhi’s air quality was measured as “poor” this week. And even as the air quality dips, pollution rears its head in the waters as well. The capital city is currently dealing with two environmental crises unfolding simultaneously.
Delhi AQI shows slight improvement, still in the 'poor' category, with capital witnessing decreased visibility. The air quality is expected to worsen during the week. Toxic foam is visible in Yamuna river.#DelhiPollution@Palaksharmanews pic.twitter.com/DpCxwueOS2
— India Ahead News (@IndiaAheadNews) November 4, 2020
Earlier this week, the child environmental activist Licypriya Kangujam, sometimes called “the Indian Greta Thunberg” also drew attention to the deteriorating quality of the Yamuna River. In a series of posts on Twitter, she not only questioned where the money being spent on governmental efforts to clean the river were going, but also outlined its importance to the people who live in and around Delhi.
Some friends asked me..... Is this the Arctic Ocean?
No. This is not at Arctic Ocean. This is the toxic foam due to high concentration of ammonia in the polluted water of Yamuna river in Delhi, India.
This is our pride 🇮🇳! pic.twitter.com/jGTsPPhlhz
— Licypriya Kangujam (@LicypriyaK) November 3, 2020
While the Yamuna got a respite from all the pollution earlier this year thanks to the national lockdown, those days seem to be in the past. As recently as April this year, the Ministry of Jal Shakti was sharing photos of a scenic Yamuna appearing clean, healthy, and pollution-free, along with a message to keep it that way. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.
UNBELIEVABLE BUT ITS TRUE!!
This is #Yamuna river in #Delhi with clean #water. It is important to maintain the beauty of nature when we come out of our homes after #lockdown#COVID2019 #nature #NatureHeals pic.twitter.com/UDMHBkIeju
— Ministry of Jal Shakti #StayHome 🏘️#StaySafe (@MoJSDoWRRDGR) April 4, 2020
And in January this year, right before his government was re-elected, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal promised to make the Yamuna so clean that Delhiites would be able to bathe in its waters.
“Kejriwal ka Guarantee Card” will include the highlights of the manifesto - Women safety, electricty, water, to make Yamuna clean, to make Delhi a world heritage city. Detailed manifesto which will include new promises to be released around Jan 26.
— AAP In News (@AAPInNews) January 19, 2020
No matter how much we might have appreciated the unspoiled beauty of the river, it seems that humans can’t help themselves when it comes to pollution.