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Ganga water has heavy metal, pesticide traces, says CPCB

Water quality of the river Ganga shows the presence of bacterial contamination besides traces of pollutants like heavy metals and pesticides, says the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

In a detailed report covering various aspects of contamination in the river, the CPCB has informed the National Green Tribunal that the Ganga, spanning a distance of 543 km between Haridwar and Kanpur, was affected by 1,072 seriously polluting industries which are releasing heavy metals and pesticides.

“Many years/centuries ago, the river was not blocked for any purpose and due to limited habitation on the banks, there was hardly any disposal of waste into the river. Now, the river Ganga is blocked/dammed at many places (upper Himalayan stretches and on the plains such as Haridwar, Bijnor, Narora and Kanpur) and water has been diverted for various uses. As a result, the water quality and ecological sanctity is threatened.

“Water quality of the Ganga is showing presence of bacterial contamination besides reporting of presence of trace pollutants like heavy metals and pesticides in some of the studies,” the CPCB said in the report filed in pursuance to the NGT’s September 6 order.

At present, 823.1 million litres per day (MLD) of untreated sewage and 212.42 MLD of industrial effluent flows into the river, while three of the four monitored Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) were non-compliant with the set standards, it said.

Zero Liquid discharge

With regard to Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) by industries, the CPCB said it has already directed them to achieve ZLD in distillery, tannery and textile units as it was mandatory that pollutants like chromium, total dissolved solid and other chemicals are separated before they are disposed of.

“All the industries discharging industrial effluents should transmit online data of their effluent quality on uninterrupted basis to the CPCB and the SPCBs. These industries should also submit fortnightly data of effluent quality based on samples collected manually and getting it analysed through laboratory recognised under the Environment Protection Act,” it said.

On the issue of sewage management, the NGT was informed that at present 823.1 MLD sewage was being discharged without treatment directly into the river and the gap will be fulfilled after construction of proposed STPs.

“Thirty stormwater drains carrying sewage and sullage (waste water) and other wastes joining the Ganga at various locations, should have flow measuring systems at the terminal points for assessing the quantity of waste water being discharged.

“The identified 30 sewage carrying drains joining the Ganga should be hygienically maintained and properly dredged at regular intervals. Dredged material should be disposed of properly without having any environmental impacts,” it said.

With regard to water quality assessment, the pollution monitoring body said keeping in view that water quality of the Ganga indicates presence of high number of fecal coliform bacteria monitoring of water quality of the river at various locations would be carried out on regular basis and monthly data be published on its website.

“Till full—fledged STP are set—up, concerned bodies should set up temporary treatment systems within next six months to reduce existing pollution load,” it said. - PTI

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