Thousands of dead fish have been floating along the banks of the Yamuna river between Mathura and Agra due to the increased water pollution, creating a shortage of drinking water in this historic Taj city.
With dissolved oxygen content in the river being reduced to zero as a result of sudden discharges of untreated effluents upstream from open drains and barrages, the quality of water has deteriorated drastically.
AdvertisementThis is the third time that such a tragedy has struck the river's aquatic life in recent times.
Nearly half the city went without water for most part of Friday. The water supplied Saturday was pale yellow and not fit for drinking.
The Agra Water Works has used a record quantity of chemicals to clean the water, "but there's a limit to which you can use these harmful cleaning agents like bleaching powder and chlorine," said an official.
Officials of the Uttar Pradesh State Pollution Control Board and the Central Pollution Control Board have been investigating the cause of the sudden rise in pollution levels. A few open drains in the city and heavy discharges from the Hindon and Okhla barrages have been identified as the culprits.
Jawahar Ram, the general manager of Agra Water Works, was hopeful of restoring normalcy within a day, as efforts were being made to release some fresh water into the river to dilute the pollutants.
Officials have also outlined urgent steps to contain the discharge of industrial effluents into the river and to ensure that the sewage treatment plants run efficiently. During Friday's survey, one treatment plant was found closed.
The Yamuna, which once flowed majestically along the Taj Mahal, provides a sad spectacle to all tourists now. It has been nearly reduced to a black drain, emitting stinking odours, forcing people to look away or cover their noses.
"This sad state of the river will eventually be the chief cause of Taj Mahal's doom," said historian R. Nath, who has been campaigning for the restoration of the river's old glory.
"The dry river bed or the polluted contents of the river are a threat to the Taj Mahal and not the air pollution about which such a fuss has been made," he added.
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