In viral images from the river Yamuna in Delhi, where toxic foam has endangered women taking ritual dips for Chhath Puja, boats and barricades were seen this morning and a man sprayed water to keep the filthy froth away.
Two men were seen putting up bamboo barricades in the river to "stop the foam from floating towards the ghat (banks)", according to visuals posted by news agency ANI from Kalindi Kunj in south Delhi.
#WATCH | Barricades being placed in the Yamuna to stop toxic foam from floating towards the ghat. Visuals from Delhi's Kalindi Kunj. pic.twitter.com/QIvun5LPMJ— ANI (@ANI) November 10, 2021
A worker said he had been tasked by the Delhi Jal Board with spraying water at the river all day.
"I will do this till the evening. This is my duty - to keep spraying water," Ashok Kumar told ANI.
#WATCH | "We are sprinkling water in the Yamuna to dissipate toxic foam," says Ashok Kumar, Delhi Jal Board employee pic.twitter.com/4waL2VsM7T— ANI (@ANI) November 10, 2021
Boats were seen in the river as the Delhi government battled criticism over appalling visuals of Chhath Puja devotees standing in the foam formed by pollutants in the Yamuna.
"Delhi government has deployed 15 boats to remove the foam that is forming in the Yamuna due to increasing pollution," an official was quoted as saying.
The idea was to "tie a strong cloth between two boats and drag the foam to the shore", the official said.
Delhi: Ahead of 'Chhath Puja', boats being used to clear-off toxic foam from Yamuna river. Visuals from Kalindi Kunj.— ANI (@ANI) November 10, 2021
Delhi govt has deployed 15 boats in the river to dissipate toxic foam. pic.twitter.com/rhcnSok4U5
The boats were called in ahead of a ritual called the "Sandhya Arghya" on the third day of the Chhath puja, in which devotees take a dip in the holy water and worship the sun.
Environmentalists, political parties and citizens have raised concerns over the white foam covering much of the river, exposing the extent of pollution in the river Yamuna.
The foam is the result of increased ammonia levels and high phosphate content caused by the discharge of industrial pollutants, including detergents, into the river, say experts. Much of it is chemical waste dumped by illegal jeans-making units along the river banks, they say.
The problem has taken a political turn with the BJP targeting Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
"The central government has provided (Delhi Chief Ministr) Arvind Kejriwal Rs 2,419 crore so far to clean the Yamuna. Let alone clean, the Yamuna is dirtier than ever before. Where did all the money go? Has Arvind Kejriwal spent all the money in putting out more ads just to promote himself," the BJP questioned in an open letter to Mr Kejriwal.
Delhi Jal Board Vice Chairman and AAP leader Raghav Chadha, however, accused BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Haryana of releasing untreated waste water into the river.