Hindus bathe in India’s sacred Yamuna covered in toxic foam | News Gallery

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One of India’s holiest rivers appears to be covered in a thick layer of snow. Except it’s not.

A vast stretch of the Yamuna River is covered in white toxic foam, caused in part by pollutants discharged from the industries surrounding New Delhi.

However, on Wednesday, hundreds of Hindu devotees remained knee-deep in its foamy and noxious waters, sometimes even diving in for a customary dip on the occasion of the Chhath Puja festival.

The Yamuna, 1,376 km (855 miles) long, is one of the holiest rivers for Hindus. It is also among the most polluted in the world.

The river supplies more than half of New Delhi’s water, posing a serious threat to the health of its residents. It has gotten dirtier over the years as most of the capital’s wastewater, agricultural pesticides from neighboring states, and industrial effluents from industrial cities flow into the waterway despite anti-pollution laws.

In a city that already has the most contaminated air in the world, a dangerously unhealthy river is a concern for many. Still, devotees flock there every year during the festival, which is dedicated to the solar deity and is observed with the ritual bath.

Rajesh Kumar Verma was among those who offered prayers on the banks of the Yamuna on Wednesday. He knows that water is harmful, but he has remained in it anyway, not at all disturbed by the danger to health.

“What fear? If we are afraid, how can we pray? ”He said.

Authorities deployed speedboats in an attempt to disperse the toxic foam. They also erected barricades of bamboo sticks to keep it away from the banks of the river.

The capital of India, home to more than 20 million people, is one of the most fetid cities in the world. Winters in particular have become a time of health problems when the city is blanketed in a toxic haze that darkens the sky and air pollution levels reach catastrophic levels.

Another contributing factor is farmers in neighboring agricultural regions who have set their land on fire after harvest to free it for the next harvest season.

“Delhi is full of pollution, but people’s lives go on. So we will also do our prayers, “said another devotee, Rajendra Mahto.

On Wednesday, New Delhi’s air quality index was “very poor,” according to SAFAR, India’s leading environmental monitoring agency.

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