Cause of froth in Yamuna and effects of pollution in Yamuna | IAS TARGET IAS Target

Yamuna frothing: What causes froth in the river and why is it dangerous?

05 Nov 2021

Category : Environmental Issue

Topic: Yamuna frothing: What causes froth in the river and why is it dangerous?

Yamuna frothing: What causes froth in the river and why is it dangerous?

A layer of bubbling can be seen over a portion of the Yamuna River near constituting toxic, bubbling water.

What is the cause of Yamuna's pollution?

Bubbles and frothing are signs of a polluted river. Experts say that releasing untreated or poorly treated sewage, including sewage and industrial waste from non-sewer areas, can lead to foaming. In particular, river phosphate creates bubbles. All wastewater remains untreated, causing surfactants and phosphates from household cleaners and industrial laundry to flow into the river.
The primary reason why froth forms are that the rivers are narrow and have low water flow. Therefore, the pollutants are not diluted. The turbulence in the barrage near Okra creates bubbles from the phosphate.

What is the reason for Yamuna’s Pollution?

People, especially the government, turns a blind eye towards the Yamuna pollution or environment. The untreated raw sewage being constantly dumped in the Yamuna is one of the root causes of this situation. Under natural conditions, the formation of bubbles on the surface of the water is very common. This phenomenon occurs in many lakes and streams. Bubbles are generated when organic matter decomposes. The dead and rotting parts of the plant contain fat molecules that are immiscible with water. Being lighter than water, they float on the water's surface and gradually accumulate to form an invisible floating layer.
Bubble-forming molecules have one end that repels water and the other end that attracts water. This reduces the surface tension of the water. As a result, foam made of organic materials in rivers and lakes can last a long time. However, many found in the Yamuna cannot be explained by such natural phenomena.

headingSource of Yamuna Pollution

According to scientists, high phosphate content in the Yamuna River forms such bubbles. Phosphates and surfactants in untreated wastewater from Delhi, Haryana, UP are other reasons for foam formation in rivers. In addition, phosphate is a component of many laundry detergents. These compounds make cleaning much easier.
Phosphates and surfactants make up 1% of the Yamuna River, while the remaining 99% are air and water. When water is disturbed by waves, natural waterfalls, or artificial barrage water, the fat layer turns into bubbles. The waste has fallen from the height of Okladam, creating bubbles. In addition, industrial sewage, organic matter from plant degradation, and the presence of filamentous fungi cause bubbles.

Health hazards

  • Short contact with such bubbles on the Yamuna River can cause skin irritation and allergies.
  • When ingested, these chemicals can cause gastrointestinal problems and illnesses such as typhoid fever.
  • Continuous exposure to chemical and industrial pollutants can be hazardous and may lead to neurological issues and hormonal imbalance.
  • Long term hazards include risks of skin cancer, asthma and so on.

Who is responsible for clearing the mess?

Officials at the Delhi Jal Board pointed out the location of the foam to show that this phenomenon had little to do with the DJB itself. According to DJB executives, bubbling can only be seen near Kalindi Kunj, downstream of Okladam. From there, the drainage channel flows into the river. There is a drain that flows from the UP and into the river near Kalindi Kunj. The drain contains untreated sewage that pollutes the river.
Okladam was maintained by the Uttar Pradesh Government's Irrigation Department and that the foam layer on the river near Okladam was on detergents and toxic substances.
Approximately 155 MGD of water reaches the barriers of Okra and all kinds of waste, industrial wastewater, chemicals, and cleaning agents. The Government of Haryana releases 105 MGD into the Yamuna. The UP government releases the remaining 50 MGD. Waterfalls from height and turns untreated waste into bubbles.
But phosphate is not only found in excess in rivers near Okladam. There is no doubt that the pollution is high at this point near Okra, which is why bubbles can be seen there. Last year, a CPCB report submitted to the Yamuna Oversight Committee stated that phosphates and surfactants were detected between ITO and downstream of Okladam.

Steps to Prevent Water Pollution, especially Yamuna:

  1. Avoid the usage of plastic as it leads to blockage. It's not biodegradable and hence, ends up being dumped directly into the water.
  2. Following the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  3. Switch to eco-friendly alternatives.
  4. Solid waste like used oils must not be run down the drain as they can cause problems in the water system. They must be disposed of off properly once collected.
  5. Medicinal material should also be disposed of in proper facilities as it can mix with the water system and harm the animals.
  6. Improper Garbage disposal is also one of the root causes of water pollution. Disposing of waste in appropriate facilities can make things easier.
  7. Avoid using chemically harmful detergents and soaps. Limit the usage of cleaning agents.
  8. Soil conservation by planting more can also contribute to saving the Yamuna.
  9. Try to take local transports and cycles instead of vehicles to avoid pollution.
  10. Keep in contact with the local water authority and inform them if you notice any mishappenings.

Delhi Government's Action:

The Delhi government sprinkled high-speed water in various locations to disperse foam and bamboo barricades and built them near Kalindi Kunji to address the problem of toxic foam on the Yamuna River. It floats toward the riverbank of the capital.
4,444 government-owned boats were also seen by the bank cleaning toxic foam to prevent the effects of pollution in the Yamuna river. Authorities said the government had commissioned 15 boats to remove the bubbles formed on the Yamuna River from increased pollution.
Water is invaluable and in scarcity. Therefore, we should always be mindful and use water intelligently and rationally instead of wasting it. Water is the source of living, and we must always protect and save it for future generations.
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