New Delhi: On a day Delhi saw its air quality dip to a three-year low, thousands of devotees offered prayers along the banks of the Yamuna river to mark the end of Chhath Puja. Early Sunday morning, men in dhoti and women in saree stepped into the river water with toxic, white foam floating on the surface of the polluted water. The devotees – braving the hazardous pollution and rain – were seen almost knee-deep in the froth that looks like candy-floss. They carried offerings of flowers, fresh fruits and other items to perform the Chhath prayers. The devotees, however, were did not get a full view of the rising sun due to thick smog covering the skyline of Delhi.
Some young women were even seen taking selfies, standing in the middle of the smelly foam.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari also took part in the Chhath Puja prayers or “Arghya” to the sun god early Sunday morning.
On Sunday, pollution levels peaked to a three-year high that made breathing difficult and lowered visibility that affected road and air traffic. Mr Kejriwal called the situation “unbearable” and said the people of Delhi were suffering for “no fault of theirs”. Schools in Delhi, Noida,Gurgaon and Faridabad are shut till Tuesday.
The Delhi government had set up over 1,100 ghats along the Yamuna as well as in parks and other public places across the city for Chhath Puja.
Yamuna, the main source of water for Delhi, is one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Nineteen drains in the capital flow into the river contributing 96 per cent on the total pollutants in Yamuna.
Just five per cent of the sewage that is discharged into the river is treated, posing a serious health hazard.
(With inputs from PTI)