Toxic foam in river Yamuna returns as lockdown eases

by Madeeha Khan

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has stopped the world from functioning. The only good thing that came out of this pandemic was the nature healing itself. Flocks of flamingos returned to Mumbai, the residents in Jalandhar spotted a Himalayan range with the naked eyes for the first time years, the quality of the Ganga river improved and lastly the foam in the Yamuna river which in 2019 had left people in distress, this lockdown had proved effective in even getting rid of it.

But as the restrictions on the lockdown ease, nature is returning to its old self. The toxic foam in Delhi’s Yamuna river has returned, signalling the return of pollution. In this lockdown period, it was noticed that this toxic foam had disappeared and several Indian migratory birds like stokes, ibis and heron had returned. As the lockdown had shut the industries and commercial activities in this region making it the primary reason for the clean water in the Yamuna river.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee said that compared to the pre-lockdown days, the river was cleaner by around 33 per cent. The Vice-Chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, Raghav Chadha had credited the lockdown for the improvement in water quality of the Yamuna river as the toxic wastes were not being discharged into it.
“Many industries and offices are closed due to the lockdown these days and therefore the Yamuna is looking cleaner. The stoppage of industrial pollutants and industrial waste has had a positive effect on water quality. We will conduct testing of the water to ascertain the percentage of improvement in the quality,” he said.

Cleaning the Yamuna was an important thing that the government and some organizations were trying to get done for a long period of time by spending crores of rupees which resulted in nothing but a failure. But nature did it on its own. A fisherman on Friday noticed that this foam has started building again in river Yamuna near Okhla Barrage. This foam is formed as a result of high pollution level which can prove to be hazardous for the people living near it.

“If the pollution level has increased then we have to make a plan to clean the Yamuna. If any responsibility is given to MCD, we will be happy to work to clean the Yamuna. We have to also see that industry operations should also be not disturbed”, Jai Prakash, the Mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation said.

Last year, during the Chattha Puja devotees, were seen standing in this toxic foam that was up till their knees. Later it was found that the water quality of the river improved downstream near Mathura.

The mayor of the East Delhi Municipal corporation in an interview said, “It is the responsibility of the Delhi government to clean the Yamuna river, but if they want and assign us some role for cleaning of the Yamuna river, we will welcome them.”

However, the environmentalists had warned that all this happiness can turn around if the government does not take active measures in maintaining this change and stopping industries from dumping their waste in the Yamuna river.

Nature knows how to heal itself from the damage done by humans without their help, only if we restrict ourselves from hurting it and not repeating the same mistakes again.

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