Hours after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s visit to the Ghazipur landfill site, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs Manoj Tiwari and Parvesh Sahib Singh on Thursday visited the Kalindi Kunj ghat along the Yamuna river and alleged that a “poisonous chemical” was being used “to kill or hide” the toxic foam.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in response, said the use of “anti-foaming agents was advised” by the Central government under the Namami Gange programme.
Mr. Tiwari and Mr. Singh had gone to the ghat “to monitor” preparations for Chhath Puja, a significant festival among the city’s Purvanchali population which will be observed on October 30 and 31. Mr. Tiwari said pollution “was not an issue” for the AAP government.
Hitting back at the two MPs after their visit, Mr. Kejriwal asked their party to share the record of its 15 years at the helm of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
Addressing a press conference after his visit, Mr. Tiwari said, “The moment we reached there [the ghat], the workers who were spraying that chemical in the water ran away, leaving the chemical behind,” adding, “They managed to erase the name of the chemical from the containers before fleeing. But we have seized about 50,000 litres of the poisonous chemical and a complaint has also been lodged with the police.”
“After noticing the chemical, we called 112 and the police registered our complaint. The people who were spraying the chemical were either the workers of Delhi Jal Board or the flood control department [Irrigation and Flood Control Delhi] and they had come there on the orders of Mr. Kejriwal so that the media cannot see the froth,” said the MP from North East Delhi, which has a sizeable population of people from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Later, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said in a statement it had started preparations to reduce foaming in the Yamuna over a month ago to let Chhath Puja devotees offer prayers to the Sun God. AAP national spokesperson and MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, who is also the Vice-Chairman of DJB, said, "BJP leaders should learn some science and technology. The DJB's anti-foaming technology [the so-called chemical] has also been recommended by the Central government agency National Mission for Clean Ganga [which oversees Namami Gange]."
Mr. Tiwari also said, “Since 2013, the Kejriwal government has been claiming that it will clean the Yamuna in five years and make everyone take a dip. But today, 2022 is about to end and in these eight years the Yamuna has only gone from bad to worse.”
Mr. Singh too hit out at Mr. Kejriwal saying the Delhi CM “knew that his claim of cleaning Yamuna would be exposed again” which is why he raised the issue of the Ghazipur landfill site. The MCD has “reduced the size of the Ghazipur landfill by 60 feet”, he added.
“Every year, a video of Arvind Kejriwal goes viral in which he says that in the next five years he will clean Yamuna and will himself take a dip in it,” the West Delhi MP said. “Till now, they have not been able to do anything.”
“In the last five years, [the] MCD has worked to reduce the dumping of garbage by installing more than 200 compactors, but instead of congratulating [the] MCD for it, Mr. Kejriwal is looking for an opportunity to shine his politics,” he added.
In response, Mr. Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi, “The election on Yamuna cleaning, schools and hospital got over in 2020. The people of Delhi have given us [the AAP] five years to clean the river. The MCD election is on garbage and cleaning of Delhi. The BJP should not divert the issue and give the record of its 15 years.”