Trickling sullage from towns polluting rivers in Himachal
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Trickling sullage from towns polluting rivers in Himachal

Absence of waste and sewage management plants in many places across state, people dumping garbage by the hillside, existing STPs need immediate upgrade, say officials

india Updated: Jun 21, 2017 11:56 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Tiimes, Shimla
Untreated waste in Beas river at Mandi.(Birbal Sharma )

Himachal Pradesh may have become the second state in the country to become open-defecation free, but untreated sewage waste trickling into the water bodies has become a major cause of pollution in the state’s rivers. In the absence of waste management plants, sullage and sewage generated at homes is trickling into major rivers, adding to the water pollution. Main tourist town, which have large floating population in the state, lack sewage treatment plants (STPs). The absence of STPs has added to the pollution levels in the rivers.

“The Pollution Control Board monitored the water quality at 250 sites. It’s not like the water quality is bad everywhere. It keeps fluctuating. We are making endeavours to convert waste into energy in the main towns so that the rivers are not polluted,” said Sanjay Sood, member secretary HP Pollution Control Board.

A study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment reveals that waste generation per household in Himachal, particularly those in urban areas, is set to increase up to 133% in the next 24 years. Also, the per capita generation of trash in hills is on the rise. Currently, the per capita generation in hills is 0.413kg per person, which is expected to increase in the near future. Additionally, there is an increase of 0.6kg of waste generation per day in Himachal.

Manali town, situated on the bank of Beas, has an old STP that needs to be upgraded. It does not have enough capacity to cater to the needs of Manali’s growing population; consequently, water pollution in the river downhill the tourist town is high. “The STP needs an upgrade. We had asked for funds from the State,” said Shabnam Kanwar, president municipal council Manali, adding, “There is a need to connect villages in the vicinity with the STPs as they too have many hotels.”

Cities polluting the rivers
  • Beas: Manali, Kullu, Dehra, Alampur
  • Satlej: Bilaspur
  • Ravi: Chamba
  • Yamuna: Poanta Sahib

The total coli form level is high in Kullu town, also situated along Beas. The water pollutants are more in Beas, just below Dehra and Alampur in Kangra district. The total coli form that determines the presence of sullage and sewage in the water was recorded 280ml in Alampur and 220 in Dehra.

However, as compared to Beas, the Pollution Control Board records show that turbulent Sutlej river is less polluted. The water pollution due to the presence of coli form was high in slapper and Bhakra towns. The Ravi river that flows through Chamba town that has a population of 19,993 too is witnessing water pollution.

Water is most polluted in Poanta Sahib, known for its historic gurdwara. The town situated on the banks of Yamuna is adding pollutants as it lacks sewage connectivity and has sullage trickling downstream into the river. The Board detected 310mg coli form per litre of water in Yamuna here.

The environmental scientists have observed that apart from sewage, waste being dumped along the hillside is also adding to the water pollution level in rivers. “Efforts should be made to treat the waste that is being dumped in the hill sides. The household waste needs to be connected to the sewage lines,” says Dr KC Kuniyal, head of environmental assessment and management department at GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development, Kullu.

First Published: Jun 20, 2017 12:45 IST