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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Chambal river pollution sets off alarm

River water treatment project moves on slow lane though downstream pollution levels rising. Bottles, glass pieces, plastic and other effluents were recovered from the body of the crocodile in autopsy, which rings alarm about pollution levels in the river, he said.

jaipur Updated: Jun 11, 2019 14:31 IST
Aabshar H Quazi
Aabshar H Quazi
Hindustan Times, Kota
Chambal river
Chambal river(HT)

Pollution levels in the Chambal, Rajasthan’s only perennial river, are rising as the river water treatment project in Kota is moving at a snail’s pace.

Sewerage drains and waste fall into the river, the lifeline of the coaching city. “Due to pollution in downstream of the Chambal, a crocodile and several small fishes were found dead in the river in Nayapura area a couple of years ago,” said Brijesh Vijayvargiya of the Rashtriya Jal Biradari.

Not only drinking water is supplied from the Kota barrage situated on the Chambal, the river caters to canal irrigation in around 2.74 lakh hectares of agricultural area in the Hadoti region.

Vijayvargiya said the Chambal passes through a stretch of around 20 km along Kota city to Keshoraipatan town of Bundi and faces pollution challenges from the densely populated banks on which hundreds of residential colonies have come up over the years.

The samples of the Chambal water taken by Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB) reveal pollution levels in the water. KK Jethalia, senior scientific officer, RSPCB, Kota, said the board collects water samples on weekly basis from two points in the river on orders of the National Green tribunal (NGT) and from four points on monthly basis under the national water monitoring programme.

Jethalia said the Chambal river comes under the category of drinking water source. “As per the norms of the Central Pollution Control Voard, water source is judged on 4 parameters -- total coliform organisms (maximum permissible number (MPN)/100 ml) should be 5000 or less; pH between 6 and 9, dissolved oxygen (DO) should be 4 mg/l or more, and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) should be 3 mg/l or less,” he said.

“The samples of Chambal water reveal that the quality is poor in downstream in comparison to the upstream from where water is supplied for drinking purposes to the Kota city after filtration,” Jethalia said.

“Samples taken in October last year from upstream near Akelgarh water filtration plant indicated 13 coliform, 7.73 pH, 1.41 BOD and 5.82 mg DO whereas downstream water sample taken from Kherli phatak reflected 210 coliforms, 5.5 BOD, 6 DO and 7.94 Ph.”

BOD is among the vital criteria denoting pollution level which consistently comes higher in downstream where pollution is higher, he said. “If the pollution continues for a long time, then it can change the ecology of the river.”

After a long-time demand of environmentalists and city inhabitants for checking pollution, the Chambal River Treatment Project of Kota worth Rs 164.37 crore was sanctioned in 2010 and the Urban Improvement Trust (UIT) of Kota was made the agency for its execution.

UIT entrusted the establishment of sewerage treatment plants, lifting stations, sewerage lines, sewage pumping stations and trapping of sewerage drains to two private firms after competitive bidding in 2010.

The treatment project was expected to be completed in 2013 but progress of work has been sluggish.

Asked about the progress, executive officer, UIT, CP Shukla said 85 kilometres of sewerage lines out of 282 have been laid in the Kota city and 4 of 22 sewerage drains trapped under the project.

“One sewerage treatment project (STP) in Sajidehra area of Kota city worth 30 million litres a day (MLD) capacity has been established under the project while another STP of 6 MLD capacity at Balita is yet to be set up,” he said. “Out of 7 lifting stations (LS) meant to lift sewage water to STPs, three have started functioning.”

The project was given extension of 39 months after 2013; though the period is over, the project has not been completed. UIT officials claim completion of around 40% work at the ground zero.

“Around Rs 78.12 crore has been spent against the sanctioned amount of Rs 164.37 crore in the Chambal pollution treatment project,” Shukla said.

Asked about the slow progress of the project, he said, “Private contractors stopped work initially; later they gave assurance to start work. But when firms failed to expedite the project, UIT terminated their service around 2 years ago.”

UIT officials said rocky strata created hurdle in digging trenches for laying sewerage lines, which proved to be one of the major obstacles in the project work. Also there were financial hiccups as the project failed to get due money on time, said UIT officials.

Meanwhile, green activists have stepped up pressure for completion of the treatment project. Babulal Jaju, state coordinator of People for Animals who filed a PIL in NGT in 2015 on Chambal pollution, said the river is the lifeline of Kota as drinking and irrigation water is supplied through the Kota barrage.

“There seems to be lack of political and administrative will towards the Chambal river conservation, otherwise the project would have been completed by now,” he alleged. “The claims of UIT, Kota about progress of the Chambal river pollution treatment project are false and I will soon file a contempt plea in NGT on the issue. The state government should expedite the project work.”

UIT officials claim the work will be taken up under the RUIDP (Rajasthan Urban Infrastructure Development Project) phase III. Shukla said tenders for the pending works of the treatment project will be floated soon.