Toxic foam on Yamuna river in India

Animal News : Toxic foam on Yamuna River in India
Woman stands in the foam covering the polluted Yamuna river during the Hindu religious festival of Chhath Puja, New Delhi, India, November 20, 2023, credit: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis

Drone footage taken on Tuesday showed toxic foam floating on the Yamuna River in Delhi, in the north of India. The river is home to fish, birds and other animals.

The Yamuna River is the longest and the second-largest tributary river of the Ganges. It originates from the Yamunotri Glacier in the Uttarakhand Himalayas and flows through several states, including Haryana and Delhi.

For years, the river faces severe pollution, especially in the part that flows through Delhi. Industrial discharge, domestic waste, and agricultural runoff contribute to its contamination, making this part of the river one of the most polluted in the country.

The pollution in the Yamuna has severe ecological impacts, affecting fish and threatening the river’s biodiversity.

Fish in the river

In the less polluted upper reaches of the river, you can find a variety of fish species like common carp and catfish. The riverbanks and wetlands around the Yamuna are home to various bird species. Migratory birds are often seen in the regions where the river is less polluted.

The river ecosystem also supports other forms of wildlife, like turtles, reptiles and amphibians. However, the biodiversity significantly decreases in the more polluted parts.

Industries along the river, especially in urban areas, discharge untreated waste directly into the river, introducing toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

A significant source of pollution is untreated domestic sewage from communities along the river. Much sewage water from houses and buildings in Delhi enters the river without adequate treatment. Fertilizers, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals also wash into the river.

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