Unexpected hope from Delhi’s poisoned Yamuna

1 Mar 2019

Millions of Indians depend on the Yamuna River. It’s their life support system. From it they draw the physical necessities — three-quarters of the Delhi’s water needs come from the Yamuna — as well as spiritual nourishment, because the Yamuna, along with the Ganges, is sacred and holy beyond human measure.

Yet, incomprehensibly, the Yamuna and the Ganges are high up on the list of the most polluted rivers on earth. How an entity so ancient, so venerated, so essential to the fabric of human life can be allowed to become a toxic sewer is not easy to understand. There are days, entire weeks in fact, when the surface of the Yamuna at Delhi appears to be covered in foot-deep snow. Kids gambol in it and Hindu devotees row their boats fearlessly through it like icebreakers cutting through a polar landscape, apparently unabashed by the malignant, ammonia-rich snow-froth.

Yes, it’s business as usual. And no, it’s not that nobody cares. Questions are asked in Parliament, protests are made, and environmentalists express their outrage at the continuing abuse of 1.5 billion litres of untreated sewage and the untold tonnes of industrial waste that flow into it each and every day.

As the photo-set above explains, a sense of hope prevails. Things will get better. This is the Indian way.

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