A TOXIC foam caused by high levels of pollution in India has infested the sacred Yamuna river in New Delhi, four days after officials declared a health emergency as a result of the air quality in the capital.
The toxic foam began to appear on the surface of the sacred river on Wednesday. On Sunday, thousands of people dressed up in colourful traditional clothes and marched to the Yamuna River in the Indian capital, to offer prayers to the holy river, take a dip in the water and worship the rising sun, thanking it for bestowing the bounties of life on Earth. Many people ended up being impacted by the foam themselves.
One local told RT News: "Many drink this water without knowing the consequences.
"Due to this pollution, both humans and animals are being affected. We are scared."
Meanwhile, toxic air levels in New Delhi have come down by more than half since the emergency was declared.
With strong winds blowing away pollutants, the air quality index at the US Embassy in New Delhi on Wednesday read 155 as compared to 500 over the weekend.
That was ten times the recommended World Health Organisation level.
Air pollution in the city peaks around November 1 due to smog from festival fireworks and smoke from the burning of stubbles in agricultural fields.
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.
Mr Kejriwal called the situation "unbearable" and said the people of Delhi were suffering for "no fault of theirs".
The 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 percent on the total pollutants in the Yamuna.
Just five percent of the sewage that is discharged into the river is treated, posing a serious health hazard.
In an attempt to counter the effects of pollution in the city, the Government on Monday introduced the odd-even scheme of car rationing.
Vehicles having number plates ending with even numbers like 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 will be allowed to run on even dates, while those with odd like 1,3,5,7 and 9 will be allowed to run on odd dates.
Two-wheelers and electric vehicles have been exempted from the restrictions, but not CNG-driven vehicles.
Women-only vehicles with children aged up to 12 years and vehicles occupied by physically-disabled persons will also be exempted.
Twenty-nine categories of vehicles, including those of President, prime minister, emergency and enforcement vehicles, have been exempted.
However, the vehicles of the Delhi chief minister and ministers will not be exempted.