Only non-polluting industrial units should be allowed to restart operations: citizens’ groups

Birds at Vrishabhavathi river.

Birds at Vrishabhavathi river.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Even as May 3 approaches and States are looking at ways to ease restrictions, activists have urged the government to utilise the positive learnings from this period in the future. Case in point: Vrishabhavathi river.

Citizens say that though sewage and garbage continue to choke the river, which has seen decades of neglect, the fact that industrial and chemical effluents are not being let into the river now has yielded some positive results. They now want the government to ask the polluting industries to get their act together before allowing them to start functioning again.

In the past, government agencies such as Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board have conceded that industrial and chemical effluents were being let into the river surreptitiously, bypassing the STP mechanism and defeating its purpose. On Tuesday, a group of citizens and NGOs, which included the Namma Vrishabhavathi Foundation, Citizens for Citizens, and Koti Vriksha Sainya, held a discussion on the matter. A release from the group resolved to exert pressure on the government to get the industries to act responsibly.

Approximately 530 MLD of untreated sewage gets into the river, and STPs treat about 274 MLD. Though the upcoming STPs have the capacity to treat another 140 MLD from 2021, they are meant for only biological waste, not industrial effluents. Once the chemicals enter the system, they destroy the beneficial bacteria, and in turn the entire treatment process fails, said the release, adding that citizens need to remember that the food they get is grown using the same water as it flows into the agricultural fields of Byramangala.

“Studies prior to the lockdown showed a presence of heavy metals, whose source was mainly industrial effluents. The sewage water had a blackish colour,” the release said. “During the lockdown, the colour of water has turned grey, even colourless, at some places. The odour is milder, with hardly any chemical smell. This could be mainly attributed to the shutdown of industries.”

“Right now, there is an opportunity to understand that these industries are causing problems. So don’t allow them to start [operations] unless pollution-causing waste is not allowed into the water system,” said Rajkumar Dugar from Citizens for Citizens.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 6:48:00 AM |

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