Hindon pollution worsens, officials insist STPs working fine
The pollution in river Hindon has continued to worsen with the water samples registering a very high presence of faecal coliform, a clear indicator that untreated sewage is flowing into the river, contrary to the tall claims by officials that the sewage treatment plants (STPs) are “up to the mark”.
According to Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), an analysis of samples collected from downstream of Kulesra in Noida in April 2021 found the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) to be 55 milligrams per litre (mg/l) against 30mg/l in April and December last year. The permissible limits for BOD — or the minimum levels of oxygen required to diffuse biological matter — is up to 3 mg/l.
Similarly, faecal coliform was found to be 13,00,000 most probable number (MPN)/100ml (against 4,00,000 in April 2020), which is about 520 times the max permissible levels of 2,500 MPN/100ml, the UPPCB report said.
The higher levels of faecal coliform shows that a high volume of sewage is reaching the river.
Earlier in October, a report by National Mission for Clean Ganga had stated that 10 of 14 STPs along the river in Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar were not complying with the discharge standards and that all 14 STPs were underperforming. Officials in the two districts later said the STPs have been fixed and are now “working fine”.
But the UPPCB data contradicts the claim, as the pollution level after the STPs were fixed (October 2020 onwards) had only worsened.
The data also showed that dissolved oxygen level in the river was nil throughout the year against a minimum requirement of 5mg/l. Dissolved oxygen level (required to sustain aquatic life) is the life of a river, which being nil means that the river is virtually dead with water unfit for consumption of any kind.
According to officials, it’s the unauthorised and untapped sewer from illegal settlements along the river that is polluting the Hindon.
“All STPs have been fixed and are complying with discharge norms in Ghaziabad.A few STPs were earlier not performing but we had them checked and later inspected. They are now complying with the norms. There are 10 STPs in Ghaziabad of which four are along the Hindon, and all are currently working,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer, UPPCB, Ghaziabad.
The pollution control board officials from Noida also stated that STPs in their jurisdiction are working.
“We are diluting the sewage that we are receiving from upstream. There was one STP in Sector 123 that was found non-compliant for faecal coliform but we had fixed it. Noida has six STPs and all are complying with norms; only the Sector 123 STP discharges into the Hindon,” said Praveen Kumar, regional officer, UPPCB, Noida.
He admitted that there are some drains that empty into the river untreated.
“There are some drains like the one in Dasna that empties into the Hindon near Gaur City untreated. Though we ensure that whatever industrial effluent it carries is treated, the drain takes a long route after originating in Dasna and flowing through Ghaziabad, Dadri, villages along GT Road and merges with Hindon near Gaur City. The best we can do is to alert the civic authority concerned to take care of the local waste,” said Kumar.
Officials also pointed out that there are a number of illegal settlements along the river.
“The truth is that we can tap the illegal sewage from authorised settlements but there are a number of large settlements such as the ones in Khulsehra, Chhajarsi, Vijay Nagar, Kinauni village and other areas of Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar that are situated along the river and discharge untreated effluents into it -- the reason for the presence of high levels of faecal coliform. The issue persists as the sewers in these villages are untapped, there is no data on them either. Besides, in Ghaziabad, the river is diverted toward the Hindon canal for irrigation, so that the flow of the river is affected. This issue remains unaddressed,” said a senior UPPCB official, on the condition of anonymity.
According to environmentalists, the major cause of pollution is “official apathy”.
“The national mission for Clean Ganga in its report had ordered the district administrations to take appropriate action against officials or organisations responsible for polluting rivers. It also ordered legal action against officials who were responsible to ensure that STPs are functional. Unfortunately, there is no accountability, nor is anyone held responsible. The result is that the condition of the Hindon continues to deteriorate by the day,” said Vikrant Tongad, a Noida-based environmentalist.
The Hindon – west Uttar Pradesh’s most important river – has a basin area of about 7,000 square kilometre. Its tributaries include the Krishni and Kali, which are also highly polluted. The Hindon originates from the Shivalik range in Saharanpur district, flowing down to Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar to finally meet the Yamuna in Noida.