Insoluble waste like wood, plastics, cloth, bamboo frame of the Durga idols and other things used during the puja celebrations was found strewn across the bank of Yamuna on Sunday evening.
This is despite the district administration and civic agencies retrieving the remains of Durga idols and waste which were immersed into the Yamuna River on Saturday.
Officials claim that the process to clear the debris from the long stretch will take some time. District administration had set up temporary enclosures to collect flowers and waste. But the bank of the river was found strewn with bamboo skeletons of idols and other non-biodegradable waste.
“The municipal corporation is collecting waste from the Yamuna bank, while the irrigation and flood control department is cleaning the river. The waste collected after the idols were immersed is mostly biodegradable, so we dump it in landfill sites,” said Yogendra Singh Mann, spokesperson for the East and North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
“The cleaning of the Yamuna is a regular drive, but during the festive season, special measures are taken to clear the river after religious rites,” Mann said.
Even during the immersion, four teams of sanitation staff were present at the designated site. But, many unregistered Puja organizers immerse idols at their own convenience. Many individuals were also seen throwing waste in plastic bags from bridges into the river. As per estimates, at least 200 idols are immersed in the Yamuna every year.
Amidst this, rag pickers and local boatmen also get a chance to make money. “Since yesterday I have collected goods around `1,000. I have collected many coins and currency note which people throw with the idols. I have collected large numbers of ‘ranga’ metal cube used during the puja. We get `1,000 per kg of ranga. We also keep a check on people throwing plastic packet as each of them have money,” said Mukesh, a teenaged rag picker.
These kids dive into the river with magnet to get metal objects.
“People and even government agencies are more aware these days but leftovers should be immediately removed, if not it will again end up in the river. But the bigger question is where is the river? The water is completely black and it isn’t flowing at all. Even kids diving into the river are vulnerable health issues due to the contaminated water,” said Manoj Misra Convener Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
“These paints contain heavy metals such as lead, chromium and mercury which dissolve in water, and harm humans and marine life,” said Toxics Link director Ravi Agarwal.