Devotees Perform Chhath Puja Amidst Delhi’s Smog and Toxic Waters of Yamuna
Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival devoted to the sun god, thanking it for bestowing life on earth. The festival is majorly celebrated in Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Nepal. The 2019 Chhath Puja was observed on November 3, where thousands of Hindu devotees performed the Puja rituals in northern India.
During the four-day festivities, the devotees perform various rituals including holy bathing, fasting, and standing in water for a long time while making offerings to the rising and setting sun.
Unfortunately, this year too Chhath Puja was marred by the stinky foam churned up by the river current and the thick smog shrouding the Delhi skyline.
Despite the fact that the Yamuna river water is unhealthy as it was covered with toxic foam floating on the surface, thousands of women devotees stood in knee-deep waters in Kalindi Kunj in Delhi.
Shocking images of Chhath Puja in polluted Yamuna River revealed the disheartening and worrisome condition of the “Holy River”. It also depicts the faith hoax prevalent in the country. The devotees stepped into the polluted Yamuna and even bathed in it without thinking of the threats it posed to their health.
Yamuna is one of India’s longest rivers and largest tributary of river Ganges. It is regarded as sacred by Hindus. Considered as Delhi’s ‘lifeline’, Yamuna is fighting to stay alive amidst the deprivation of water flow in the river.
It covers only a 48 kilometer stretch in Delhi and most of the pollution comes in this area. Despite the fact that it fulfills the water requirement of around 19 million people residing in Delhi, it has turned into one of India’s most polluted river as institutional neglect has allowed industrial effluents, solid waste, and untreated sewage to flow into it over the years.
Nineteen drains in Delhi flow directly into the river contributing 96 percent of the total pollutants in the Yamuna. Only five percent of the sewage that is discharged into the river is treated, posing a serious health hazard. For the past many years, the river has been infected with the pollutants, resulting in the death of riverine ecology.
Although the government has started numerous river reviving campaigns for the Yamuna, all of it in vain as no one pays heed. Evidently, the well-being of the river is not of any concern to the people blinded by faith. They will perform the religious ceremonies in rivers even if it poses a threat to their own lives or to the environment.
The increasing air pollution level in Delhi has hugely contributed to the already miserable situation of the river. Post-Diwali, the national capital has been experiencing high levels of pollution. The stubble burning in the neighboring states has also increased the air pollution index in Delhi to extreme levels.
The government declared a health emergency in Delhi after the Air Quality Index in the capital crossed the severe and emergency levels within a span of just one week. As a result, schools were closed till November 5. The Supreme Court has ordered the authorities to take stringent actions against the uncontrollable air pollution situation as people cannot be allowed to evacuate the city.
Undoubtedly, people are not worried about the cleanliness of the water bodies. The few efforts that are being done by authorities and some organizations get neutralized after people dispose of waste into the rivers without giving it a second thought.
The sole water body fulfilling nearly 80 percent of Delhi’s water needs is almost dead. It is a health hazard for everyone living around it which isn’t seeming to ring the alarm bells. It is high time that people stop dumping their waste in the Yamuna and reinstate its past glory of “holy river”.
Via: Financial Express