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Rivers of filth

delhi Updated: Nov 18, 2008 02:28 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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Thirty- one per cent of Indian rivers and water bodies contain an alarming level of bacterial contamination, according to an analysis of the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB), which monitors water quality at 1,245 locations in the country.

The analysis said the quality of water of the rivers like the Yamuna in Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh, the Ganga in Kanpur, the Sabarmati in Ahmedabad and the Satluj in Punjab was not fit for human consumption.

Coming only a few days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared the Ganga as India’s national river, the watchdog blamed India’s urban centres for pollution. It said municipal corporations were not able to treat the increasing load of the sewage flowing into rivers.

In Delhi, more than half the city’s sewage flows into the Yamuna without adequate treatment, turning the Yamuna into the country’s most bacteria contaminated river. Urban sewage is also a major cause of the pollution of the Sabarmati and the Hindon near Ghaziabad and Noida in Uttar Pradesh.

A Planning Commission report on wastewater management said only 30 per cent of the wastewater released into Indian rivers and lakes was treated.

The CPCB said organic pollution indicators, the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and the chemical oxygen demand (COD), were found to be considerably high near large urban centres due to the discharge of partly treated or untreated wastewater.

However, the CPCB found that the overall water quality had slightly improved during the last decade, but the pathogenic (bacterial) pollution level was still rising. Pathogenic pollution is the major cause for water-borne diseases, which kill more than four lakh children every year in India.

In 66 per cent of the monitoring centres, the total coliform — a bacterial pollution indicator — increased from 53 per cent in 2006 from as low as 48 per cent in 1999.