Cabinet rejig: Old problems for new minister as Gadkari takes on Ganga clean-up | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Cabinet rejig: Old problems for new minister as Gadkari takes on Ganga clean-up

At Sangam in Allahabad where the Yamuna and Ganga meet, the maximum values for Total Coliform, an indicator of water quality, in 2016 was more than 12 times the permissible limit.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2017 16:15 IST
Malavika Vyawahare
Banks of River Ganga filled with garbage at Sangam in Allahabad.
Banks of River Ganga filled with garbage at Sangam in Allahabad.(File)

The ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation has a new head in Nitin Gadkari but its battle to clean the Ganga river is age-old, and not much has changed in half a decade, latest water quality data obtained by the Hindustan Times shows.

At Sangam in Allahabad where the Yamuna and Ganga meet, the maximum values for Total Coliform, an indicator of water quality, in 2016 was more than 12 times the permissible limit: 63,000 MPN (most probable number) of coliform organisms per 100ml of water as against the limit of 5,000 MPN/100ml.

In Varanasi, the water quality is as abysmal.

Total Coliform (TC) includes both fecal coliform bacteria like the dreaded strain of E. Coli — found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals — and other coliform bacteria. The CPCB uses TC values to determine the quality of water and other indicators.

However, fecal coliform is a robust indicator of human caused pollution. Fecal coliform levels are measured separately and capture contamination by human and animal feces. High levels of fecal coliform indicate presence of other disease-causing pathogens in the water, and might not be easy to measure.

In 60% of stations in Uttar Pradesh for which data was available, the maximum values for fecal coliform levels exceeded norms.

At Sangam the maximum value for fecal coliform was more than 10 times the prescribed limit, which is 2500 MPN per 100 ml, and the minimum value was over 8 times the norm.

Being even within the prescribed limit does not mean the water is fit for consumption. The permissible limit for TC of 5,000 MPN/100ml or less means that the water can be used for drinking only after proper treatment and disinfection. In most places, such treatment is not available.

For bathing in river water, the total coliform should be 500 MPN or less per 100ml. Ideally, there should be no coliform bacteria in the water for it to be declared fit for drinking.

And dirty flows the Ganga...
Latest water quality data shows that while UP struggles to improve water quality, Bihar has seen reasonable success while Ganga water quality in West Bengal remains alarming