NEW DELHI Ė The Yamuna, one of Indiaís major rivers and one of its holiest, has been as good as dead for decades now owing to continuing pollution of its waters.
Despite repeated warnings by ecologists that the riverís water is not suitable for human use, including bathing, in most places, thousands of people take annual dips in it during various Hindu festivals like the Chhath festival in November.
The river that originates in a glacier in the Himalayas and flows through Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in North India and that was once considered a lifeline of the Indian capital, is now reduced to no more than a large, open sewer, choking with industrial runoff and plastic and other waste, including paraphernalia from Hindu festivals and rituals, including idols, human hair, flowers, etc.
The river also has almost no aquatic life owing to over 20 drains that pour untreated sewage and other waste into its waters.
Dumping of solid waste and garbage is also a major problem for the beleaguered river, whose condition is the worst along a 22 kilometer stretch between Wazirabad and Okhla that contributes to almost 74 percent of its pollution load.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Engineering Sciences and Research Technology, the riverís toxicity level is so high that its waters remain untreatable in some of the most technologically advanced water treatment plants.
Indiaís Central Pollution Control Board, too, has certified the riverís water to be unfit for any purpose other than industrial cooling and recreation.
The Indian government has been trying to contain the pollution of the Yamuna, along with the Ganges, one of its other major rivers, for decades now and by mid-2016, had spent $567 million to try and clean up the rivers, although the ground situation has remained largely unchanged.