Farmers in western Uttar Pradesh have been asked not to use the water of the Hindon river for growing vegetables, which are also sold in the National Capital Region markets, as it has been found to be polluted and contaminated by various official laboratories. Several NGOs along with the Meerut administration have been creating awareness among the local farmers.
According to Raman Tyagi, director of Neer Foundation, a non-governmental organisation associated with cleaning water bodies in western Uttar Pradesh, farmers living on the banks of the Hindon use polluted and contaminated water of the river to grow vegetables.
Content of heavy metals
“Several independent tests have shown that extremely high content of heavy metals and compounds like mercury, lead, zinc, phosphate, sulphide, cadmium, iron, nickel and manganese have been found in the river water. This makes the river water extremely dangerous to use for growing vegetables. But despite that a large number of farmers use the river water due to a variety of reasons to grow vegetables. That poses a major health risks to people,” said Mr. Tyagi, who is also a member of Nirmal Hindon Abhiyan, a cleaning drive of the Hindon river which flows in areas surrounding Meerut.
The cleanliness initiative of the river is led by Prabhat Kumar, the Divisional Commissioner of Meerut.
“Hence, we are creating awareness among farmers not to use the river water and instead use alternative sources of water. We are also in touch with the village heads and local administration discussing ways to come up with alternative sources of water. Several meetings have been organised for the purpose,” he added. Mr. Tyagi said farmers were being made aware of organic farming and its long-term benefits both for the grower and the consumer.
Due to the extent of pollution in the Hindon, the Kali and the Krishna, the rivers flowing in western UP, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in January had ordered that Central Pollution Control Board to do an “intensive survey” of these rivers and the 136 industrial bodies which are allegedly polluting the rivers.
The order came in response to a petition filed by an NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti claiming that over 50 people from villages around the rivers died of cancer as a result of consuming contaminated ground water.
Dr. Chandraveer Singh, retired scientist from the Haryana Pollution Control Board and director of the NGO, claimed that the water of the three rivers have contaminated the groundwater through seepage. While directing the CPCB to submit the report in two months, the NGT observed that it was the fundamental duty of the State government to look after the health and environment of villagers.