Varuna turning into a dirty nullah
Is river Varuna, which bisects temple city Varanasi turning into an obnoxious nullah?
A study by experts from IT-BHU conducted during first three months of 2009 could hold an affirmative reply to this question.
Conducted by a team led by Dr Pradip Srivastava (Associate Professor at School of Biochemical Engineering, IT-BHU) and Dr PK Mishra (Associate Professor at Department of Chemical Engineering, IT-BHU) between Kotwan village and Sarai Mohana, the study aimed at analysing present state of water quality of Varuna has delivered shocking results.
Talking to HT on Thursday, Dr Mishra detailed about findings of the study, which is based on analysis of water samples collected from 32 points between Kotwan and Sarai Mohana.
Out of the nine nullahs, which flow into Varuna round the clock, analysis of water samples of four nullahs revealed a poisonous picture, as Desired Oxygen (DO) level in these nullahs is alarmingly low than standard level of at least 6-8 mg/litre.
At the nullah which carries domestic and industrial waste into the river at Phulwaria-Lehertara, the DO is just 0.6 mg/litre, while it further deteriorates to 0.4 mg/litre at Chowkaghat, Nakhighat and Bhagwa Nullah, while the DO level in the river after Chowkaghat is 1.2 mg/litre after Chowkaghat which means only disease causing micro-organisms or bacteria can thrive in Varuna after Chowkaghat and no normal aquatic species can survive in the river between Chowkaghat and Sarai Mohana, as it has turned into a virtual nullah in this five to six km stretch, said Mishra.
"If the four most pollution causing nullahs are not diverted elsewhere or their water not treated via treatment plants, it will turn entire Varuna river into an obnoxious nullah in three to five years, he added.
Added Mishra, while the river between Rameshwar and Lehertara could be used as arable source, the amount of Nitrate and Phosphate (five to ten times more than permissible limit) can in long run mean the death of agriculture in the same region.
Also the excess Nitrate in river means drinking the river water by kids can lead to Nitrate Poisoning.
"In totality the study starkly reveals that Varuna river after Phulwaria village is falling short on all safety parameters, as Total Solid in it's water owing to unbridled pollution has shot up to 1400 mg/litre (seven times more) than permissible limit of 200 mg/litre, while other parameters like Hardness, Alkalinity, Acidity, BOD and COD, all are at alarming level."
Against the safe BOD of 2.5, BOD in nullahs is up to 30, while BOD of Varuna river is nearly 75 to 80 times more at 160.
Mishra maintained that results of recent study also brings to fore that even the self-purifying capacity of Varuna (due to stagnant water and pollution beyond imagination) has vanished.
Amount of Lead and Nitrate in the ground water in 20 villages edging Varuna too have gone up alarmingly. While level of Nitrate contamination is alarmingly high in 12 villages, that of Lead too is very high in 5-6 villages, while Chromium content in ground water too is nearing the danger mark, raising the possibility of the Varuna river turning carcinog (cancer causing).