Hindon continues to be filthy, Chhath Puja devotees look to other ponds
The presence of total coliform indicate contamination in river water and it is due to the flow of untreated sewage. The water quality further deteriorates after Chhajarsi because several untreated drains and also houses on the floodplains empty into the river
With the annual festival of Chhath Puja set to start on November 17, residents of Ghaziabad and Noida are concerned about the contamination of river Hindon, which, according to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has improved in water quality since 2021 but still has sizeable presence of contaminants such as total coliform.
Every year, thousands of devotees from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar throng the banks of river Hindon in Ghaziabad and Noida to perform the puja to worship the sun god. Samples of the river water are collected from four prominent locations of at Karhera and Mohan Nagar in Ghaziabad and Chhajarsi and Kulesra in Noida.
The dissolved oxygen (DO) levels were recorded at an average of 1.6mg/litre, 1.45mg/l, 0.23mg/l and nil at the four respective locations during the period from January to October in 2021. During the same period in 2022, the DO levels stood at an average of 0.5mg/l, 0.63mg/l, nil and nil,respectively, for the four sampling locations.
The levels improved considerably in 2023 with average DO levels recorded at 2.86mg/l, 2.8mg/l, 4.31mg/l and nil at four respective sampling locations.
The DO levels of 4mg/l or above are considered amicable for propagation of aquatic life. The higher the level of DO , the more fit it is for use as a drinking water source and bathing.
“The quality of water may have improved in figures but waters of the Hindon are still filthy, black in colour and stinking. Each year, mindful of the contaminated conditions, devotees do not stand for long in the water and many also refrain from taking a ritual dip. The water can cause skin irritation and is absolutely unfit for any form of consumption. More water has started to arrive in the river but it is still filthy and contaminated,” said Pandit Rakesh Tiwari, national general secretary of ‘Purabiya Jan Kalyan Parishad’, which organises Chhath Puja on the river Hindon banks.
The UPPCB figures indicate that coliform is an average of 280,000 mpn/100ml, 313,000 mpn/100ml, 390,000mpn/100ml, and 423,000 mpn/100ml at the four locations of Karhera and Mohan Nagar in Ghaziabad and Chhajarsi and Kulesra in Noida, respectively, during the period from January to October this year.
The officials said the readings are quite high as the standard limit for total coliform is 1,000 mpn/100ml.
Similar higher ranges were witnessed in 2021 and 2022 as well, they said.
“The presence of total coliform indicate contamination in river water and it is due to the flow of untreated sewage. The water quality further deteriorates after Chhajarsi because several untreated drains and also houses on the floodplains empty into the river,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer, UPPCB, Noida.
“The river banks are littered with garbage and clutter besides Diwali puja leftovers. Since devotees have no alternative, they are forced to use the banks for the Chhath Puja and they also try to clean the banks on their own. People in high-rises stay away from the river and perform the puja in the swimming pools of their societies,” said Mayank Kumar, another devotee.
Sanjay Singh, executive officer of the Uttar Pradesh irrigation department, did not respond to calls for comment.
“We have been told that 2,000 cusecs of Ganga water has been released in the Upper Ganga Canal, and that has been diverted to river Hindon. The canal was closed for annual maintenance around Dussehra festival and the water was released on the night of November 12/13 from Haridwar,” said Unmesh Shukhla, executive engineer from UP Jal Nigam.