The Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) fears that the Ganga pollution may rise manifold during the Char Dham yatra which begins next month.
The board’s main concern is that hotels, ashrams and lodges along the Char Dham route (Rishikesh, Haridwar and Garhwal) continue to dump their waste into the Ganga despite restrictions and the volume might increase by 70% when they reach the capacity during the yatra. Over six lakh pilgrims go on the Char Dham pilgrimage every year.
Board member secretary Vinod Singhal, however, was hopeful that the state government would support the board in environment compliance.
A pollution survey report submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) last month revealed that at least 1,500 hotels and ashrams are dumping waste in the Ganga besides 60 industries in Haridwar and nearby areas along the river. The situation might become complex as the sewage treatment plants along the river are under capacity, officials said. Peyjal Nigam project engineer VK Goel said Haridwar needed at least a treatment plant with an additional 15 MLD treatment capacity and Rishikesh and Garhwal with over 20 MLD capacity.
According to the tribunal, “In Uttarakhand alone, daily sewage output into the river is 142.99 MLD whereas contribution from trade effluents from grossly polluting industries is 7 MLD and treated and untreated effluent from other industries is 67 MLD.”
In Haridwar, the Jagjitpur has a capacity of only 18 MLD and it receives over 45 MLD waste daily. Same is the case in Sarai.
In Rishikesh, only a 6 MLD plant is running at Lakadghat. In Garhwal there are two STPs-Tapovan (3MLD) and Swargashram (3.50 MLD). All of them are under capacity plants which might prove ineffective during the yatra, officials said.
However, hoteliers blame it on the government. “It’s the urban body that has to come up with STPs and not individual hotels and ashrams,” Sunil Gulati of Ellbe hotels said.
Action so far
The board has already sealed three hotels early this year that didn’t obtain the non-objection certificate which is mandatory under Section 25 of The Water (Prevention and Control Pollution) Act, 1974. At least five ashrams have been found to be violating the section. The board has slapped notices on 15 hotels having more than 50 rooms for not disposing their sewage waste as per the prescribed norms. They have been asked to reply on April 15.