A thick layer of poisonous foam covered parts of the sacred river Yamuna (Jamna), a tributary of the Ganges. The surroundings of the Indian capital New Delhi were covered in acrid and harmful smog.
White foam is a mixture of sewage and industrial waste. It contains high levels of ammonia and phosphates, which can cause breathing and skin problems. The appearance of the foam coincided with dangerous levels of environmental pollution. Due to the sharp rise in pollution levels, primary schools and some businesses in New Delhi have closed.
Simultaneously with the incident in the capital, a similar mixture appeared in a channel in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Strong gusts of wind blow foam onto the roads, and the toxic substance ends up on cars and motorcycles.
Toxic foam floating on Yamuna river, Delhi.
Is Diwali responsible for this too? pic.twitter.com/X2QcHkrZ1M
— Mr Sinha (@MrSinha_) November 14, 2023
For decades, parts of the Yamuna River have been plagued by the dumping of toxic chemicals and untreated sewage. In some areas the river looks dark and dirty, its banks littered with plastic waste. The heaviest pollution is observed in the vicinity of Delhi, which is associated with high population density and large amounts of waste. Only 2% of the river’s length flows through the capital, but the metropolis accounts for about 76% of the river’s total pollution.
Despite the toxicity of the foam, many residents of villages located downstream continue to use water from the Yamuna for bathing and even drinking. Moreover, surrounded by thick foam, Hindus perform their rituals in the sacred river. Every year, devotees gather on the banks of the Yamuna to celebrate Chhath Puja, a festival dedicated to the sun god Surya.
Toxic foam floats on the Yamuna river as the pollution level in the national capital remains in the 'Very Poor' category, at Kalindi Kunj, in New Delhi on Monday.#YamunaRiver #PollutionUpdate #NewDelhi #KalindiKunj #Capital #Pollution #NatureEscape #RitamappBangla pic.twitter.com/sA3qyFUQzL
— Ritam Bangla (@RitamappB) November 14, 2023
According to the Swiss company IQAir, this week Delhi was recognized as the most polluted city in the world for several days in a row. On Thursday, the city’s air quality index reached a dangerous level of 517. By comparison, Oslo, the least polluted major city in the world, has an AQI of just three. The capital of China, Beijing, which used to often be included in the list of the most polluted cities in the world, has seriously taken up air purification, and today its index is 25, writes CNN.