The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has slammed Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government over the formation of toxic froth in different parts of the Yamuna in Delhi. The saffron party has accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of disrupting the arrangements of the Chhath festival, a symbol of faith and culture. “In the name of preparations for Chhath Puja, a symbol of faith and tradition, the Arvind Kejriwal government is trying to do appeasement,” said BJP state president Virendra Sachdeva.
Manoj Tiwari, a BJP MP from the North East constituency of Delhi, said that the Chhath celebrations will be affected by the toxic foam on the Yamuna. Addressing the media, Tiwari said, “If the Arvind Kejriwal government keeps playing with the faith of Hindus, the BJP will not tolerate it.” Tiwari added, “I inspected Kalindi Kunj ghat and saw chemical foam floating in Yamuna.” He also visited the banks of the Yamuna at Sonia Vihar and said the river gets polluted after the Wazirabad barrage.
He said sewerage from the Najafgarh drain mixes with the river. “The Najafgarh drain is the main source of pollution for the river. The river is clean in the upper stream until Haryana. People should get permission to pray in these clean sections. It is due to the toxic froth that people are told not to enter the river for prayers,” he said.
Tiwari said if Arvind Kejriwal is citing Chhath festival as the main reason for Yamuna being polluted, then “it is the height of his foolishness because in the cities where Ganga, Brahmaputra, and other rivers flow, why does the situation not change after Chhath festival?”
BJP state president Virendra Sachdeva said that the Kejriwal government is playing with the faith of Hindus, especially the Purvanchalis. He said that on the one hand, Arvind Kejriwal’s ministers are making new announcements regarding preparations for Chhath Puja, while on the other hand, the Kejriwal government has given an affidavit in court saying that Yamuna can get polluted due to the Chhath festival.
Sachdeva said, “Kejriwal is only trying to disrupt the Chhath festival by making the excuse of Yamuna pollution, whereas Chhath is celebrated with great pomp not only in Delhi, but in other cities also on the banks of the river, but there are no complaints about it.” Delhi BJP Purvanchal Morcha President Neeraj Tiwari said that on one hand, AAP Minister Atishi is giving orders to build 1,000 Chhath Ghats, and on the other hand, her own Bawana Assembly MLA Jai Bhagwan Upkar is standing up to get the Chhath Ghats demolished.
Even the Congress has also slammed its I.N.D.I.A bloc partner led the Delhi government over the pollution of Yamuna. Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely accused the government of “squandering crores” on publicity, but not bothering to clean up the Yamuna. He said, “Thousands of Poorvanchalis would be forced to perform Chhath Puja in the polluted Yamuna’s water.”
The Sunday Guardian interacted with an expert to understand the situation. Experts said the formation of toxic froth in the Yamuna is an annual phenomenon during the winter, indicating high levels of untreated sewage and industrial pollutants in the river’s water.
He said that the foam formation indicated that large amounts of wastewater, untreated sewage, and effluents from industries were coming into the river without any treatment. “Out of 36 sewage treatment plants, 22 are working below parameters. The river is getting detergents and industry chemicals, and due to this, the water turns black and has no life in it. Using a defoaming agent is not even akin to treating the symptoms of the disease. As soon as the defoaming agents stop, the foam will return. But no one will care about the river after the Chhath is over.”
However, Gopal Rai, the development and environment minister in the Delhi government, said, “In various parts of Delhi, preparations are at an advanced stage to set up 1,000 ghats. Teams have been formed to look at the arrangement of these venues, and the government will help the devotees celebrate the festival on a grand scale.” A government spokesperson said the ghats will be provided with facilities such as drinking water, tents, electricity, toilets, security, medicine, and power backup, and all district collectors have been told to ensure necessary arrangements.
Chhath is the most popular festival for people from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh (popularly known as Purvanchalis in Delhi). The four-day festival started on 17 November and will last until 20 November. During the festival, devotees observe fasting and present “arghya” to the sun god at knee-deep water in the last two days of the festival.