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Idol immersions choked Yamuna

Source : Times of India, 20 October 2016, New Delhi

Recent idol immersions have worsened the water quality of Yamuna. The dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in the river, which support aquatic life, plummeted to zero post Vijayadashami.

A report released by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) on Wednesday showed the biological oxygen demands (BOD) remained alarmingly high at all ghats where immersions took place—well past the standard marking of 3mg/l for waterbodies.

The BOD at Kalindi Kunj rose from 20 to 24mg/l post immersions while it rose from 25 to 30mg/l at Qudsia Ghat. Geeta Ghat, on the other hand, saw an improvement post immersions when the water quality was tested. On Vijayadashmi, the highest BOD was recorded at Qudsia Ghat where the dissolved oxygen level was found to be zero.
DO levels plummeted to zero in most locations. Only at Shyam ghat, it had a 2.1 mg/l presence, down from 6.1mg/l the previous day. According to Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, the use of lead-based paints and decorations for idols were the major contributors to pollution in Yamuna.

"Earlier, idols made from plaster of Paris used to be the primary source of pollution. Now, lead-based paints used on idols are major pollutants. Despite guidelines, people have thrown flowers, clothes and decoration items into the river in large quantities, leading to a rise in suspended solids," added Misra.

According to the DPCC report, the total soluble solids (TSS) was highest at Geeta Ghat during immersions (120 mg/l) and the lowest at Chhath Ghat (78 mg/l). Yamuna's water quality currently remains in the 'E' category, which makes it fit only for irrigation and industrial usage.

In 2015, a report by CPCB had identified unabated discharge of wastewater into Yamuna, mostly from domestic sources, as the major reason behind its deteriorating water quality.

"Toxic and heavy metals from paint used on idols remained a problem this year," said Dr Prashant Rajankar of Toxics Link.

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