Post-Puja, Yamuna battles immersion onslaught

October 7th, 2011 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) Piles of holy trivia comprising wooden and mud skeletons of the goddess, tonnes of rotting flowers, polythene packs — a day after the immersion ritual of the Durga Puja, the Yamuna river here is a particularly sore sight.

Over 600 idols of goddess Durga and her four children were immersed at Kalindi Kunj, Kudsia Ghat, Geeta Ghat and Nigam Bodh Ghat along the river.

Severed heads of the deities bob in the water along 10 km of the river from Wazirabad to Kalindi Kunj — the cramped bank bordering the metropolis and Noida.

“The water level is barely 2.5 feet and the river is static. A week ago, the level was 20 feet. The gates of the Yamuna barrage have been closed to control the water flow to stop litter from flowing downstream,” Kalindi Kunj bank caretaker Bhola Ghota Hor told IANS.

“MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) cleaners prepared the bank for immersion. We have to wait till Chhat festival in November for the clean-up,” he said.

The stretch of the bank had been amassing litter since Janmashthami - birthday of Lord Krishna - in August. It continued through Ganesh Chaturthi and Vishwakarma Puja, culminating in the Durga Puja immersion, Hor said.

“The responsibility lies with the people who come to immerse idols. We were told that 10 NGOs would recycle the litter but no one has turned up,” he added.

Nearly 40 sewer channels drain into the river between Wazirabad and Noida.

At Kudsia Ghat and Geeta Ghat, across the Red Fort complex, the river widens and is nearly five-and-half feet deep.

“We are waiting for the MCD to clear immersion waste from the bank. This is a bathing enclave. There was a time when we drank water from the Yamuna at Geeta Ghat but today we are scared to touch the water,” said former Yamuna life-guard Ravi Shankar Sharma.

“The river is dying. Only a great deluge can save it,” Sharma said.

According to a spokesperson for the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, Delhi is not in a position to treat large scale sewage water.

Studies say nearly 1,270 (mld) million litres of untreated sewage is daily allowed to enter the 22-km stretch of the river in Delhi.

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