KSPCB officials say it’s too early to ring alarm bells

While Nethravati continues to be the cleanest river in the State, its sister river in the district, Kumardhara, has slipped a few notches below to join the Cauvery, Krishna and Tungabadra among the polluted rivers.

Even as environmentalists contest the claims of Nethravati being the cleanest, the authorities are planning to collect data from more points. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), which monitored 19 rivers across the State, graded the water samples collected from Nethravati river at Dharmasthala with an ‘A’ – making it the only one in the State to bag the cleanest river tag. This is in continuation of the grade it has received since 2003.

However, Kumaradhara which until 2012 was only one among two rivers declared as ‘clean,’ has been given an average grade of ‘C’ after the testing of its samples – taken before its confluence with the Nethravati at Uppinangady – between April and December 2013.

While a grade of ‘A’ implies the river water can be used for drinking purposes after a simple disinfection process (boiling of water or addition of chlorine), a ‘C’ grade indicates that the water has to be filtered through conventional treatment (addition of alum to remove sediments) followed by disinfection.

Samples from the Nethravati were graded ‘A’ in five out of nine months of the test period; while Kumaradhara samples graded ‘A’ just twice, while testing for the more polluted ‘C’ grade in four months.

However, KSPCB officials in the regional office here say the results show the need for greater caution instead of ringing alarm bells. “If by the end of the year we get similar results, we can conclude with certainty that effluents are being discharged into the river continuously,” said Jayaprakash S. Nayak, Scientific Officer, KSPCB.

Effluents’ flow

Niranjan Rai, an environmentalist based in Uppinangady, said: “Most of the effluents from Uppinangady town get discharged into the Nethravati and not Kumaradhara. They need to test Nethravati downstream if pollution is to be measured.” He said the construction work on the mini-hydel project at Urumbi near Kadaba may have contributed to the presence of sediments and chemicals in Kumardhara which supplies water to Puttur. “Construction works such as the one for Yettinahole Diversion Project may affect the whole Nethravati eco-system,” said Mr. Rai.

Conceding that the grade given to the Nethravati based on the current testing point does not give a clear picture of pollution there, Mr. Nayak said: “We have received sanction for testing at more populated areas of Bantwal town and Uppinanady after the confluence, and next year, we should get more accurate figures of pollution in the Nethravati.”

More In: Mangaluru