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Lucknow: Untreated sewage killing our lifeline

Gomti gasps for life: Waste flowing into the Gomti comprises human waste. This depletes dissolved oxygen in the river, making it unfit for sustaining life forms. It also affects the natural cleaning process of the river.

lucknow Updated: Jul 09, 2018 12:25 IST
Chandan Kumar
Chandan Kumar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Lucknow,Untreated wastes,Sewage
A view of Gomti at Daliganj bridge. Apart from biodegradable human waste, an estimated 10 metric tonnes solid waste, in the form of construction material, household garbage and plastic, is also fed into the river.(Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)

Lucknow Less than a kilometer away from the chief minister’s residence runs the Haider canal, parallel to Lohia Path. This water body is one of the biggest sources of pollution in the Gomti.

Untreated sewage and garbage in the canal flows directly into the river near the Gomti barrage. White froth on the river’s surface at this point camouflages the extent of damage which is ‘killing’ the Gomti.

WHAT AILS THE RIVER?
  • An estimated 27 drains carry sewage waste into the river on this section. Many of these drains are not linked with the main catchment drain that channels through sewer treatment plants.
  • Apart from biodegradable human waste, an estimated 10 metric tonnes solid waste, in the form of construction material, household garbage and plastic, is also fed into the river that chokes Gomti.
  • “Encroachment over floodplains not only disturbs the river eco-system but also obstructs the natural process of its rejuvenation. In case of Gomti, which is fed by underground water, it stops the natural recharge of the river,” explained Dr Sudhir Singh, an environmentalist.
  • A big section of Gomti Nagar is said to have been developed by encroaching over the river’s floodplains. The recent channelisation of the river to construct riverfront is termed as a serious encroachment over floodplain. These encroachments have narrowed the river flow to as low as 100 metres in some areas

CHOKING GOMTI

Gomti, a groundwater-fed river that emerges from Madhotanda area of Pilibhit, is treated in the worst way while passing through Lucknow. The river covers 58 km from Chandrika Devi temple in Bakshi ka Talab to Indira dam in Lucknow. Of this, the 24-km stretch from Ghaila Pul to Shaheed Path is where the river is most polluted.

An estimated 27 drains carry sewage waste into the river on this section. Many of these drains are not linked with the main catchment drain that channels through sewer treatment plants.

“Gomti is the lifeline of Lucknow, yet we treat it like a garbage dump where we put all our waste without any thought,” said Dr Dhruv Sen, professor of geology department at University of Lucknow. A huge section of the waste fed into the river comprises human waste. This depletes the dissolved oxygen in the river, making it unfit for sustaining life forms, thus affecting the natural cleaning process of the river.

“Rivers, like other natural systems, have a self-cleaning mechanism which is affected with excessive waste flowing into them. Once the system is affected, health of the rivers begins to deplete,” said Sen.

The degradation of Gomti becomes apparent by its dark coloured water near Jhulelal Park. The water quality only turns worse as the river proceeds further.

Apart from biodegradable human waste, an estimated 10 metric tonnes solid waste, in the form of construction material, household garbage and plastic, is also fed into the river that chokes Gomti.

“In the last 10 years, over Rs 2,000 crore has been spent on Gomti under GAP and riverfront development project. But, there has not been any improvement in the quality of river water due to faulty planning, lack of knowledge about river systems and mismanagement of funds.”-Venkatesh Dutta, associate professor, School of Environmental Sciences, BBAU

FLOODPLAINS ENCROACHED

“Man is a complex being, he makes deserts bloom and lakes die,” said late American jazz poet Gil Scott – Heron. The statement is in line with how Lucknow has treated the river over the years. With the growth of population and poor implementation of conservation guidelines, majority of the Gomti floodplains have been encroached upon. This has impacted the natural eco-system of the river and contributed to its pollution,” said Venkatesh Dutta, associate professor, School of Environmental Sciences, BBAU.

The encroachment of river plains started after 1970 when embankments were made to prevent flood water from entering the city. It continued as the city expanded.

A big section of Gomti Nagar is said to have been developed by encroaching over the river’s floodplains. The recent channelisation of the river to construct riverfront is termed as a serious encroachment over floodplain. These encroachments have narrowed the river flow to as low as 100 metres in some areas.

“Encroachment over floodplains not only disturbs the river eco-system but also obstructs the natural process of its rejuvenation. In case of Gomti, which is fed by underground water, it stops the natural recharge of the river,” explained Dr Sudhir Singh, an environmentalist.

“Rivers are living creatures that need some space to nurture. We must understand this,” he added.

ONLY PLANS, NO ACTION

Chief minister Yogi Aditynath launched the ‘Clean Gomti’ mission from the river bank at Jhulelal Park late last month. He himself removed waste from the river using a spade.

An army of temporary workers was deployed to remove garbage from the river at several places in the city. However, it turned out just be a political photo op. The CM didn’t announce any funds or plan for the exercise. Right from the next day, the mission remained limited to papers – neither cleaning was done as part of the mission nor did any government official bother to follow it up.

In the absence of strong will from the government, even the funds released for improving the state of the river were not utilised well. “More than Rs 2,000 crore have been spent on Gomti in the last 10 years under Ganga Action Plan and riverfront development project,” said Dutta, adding: “Despite this, there has not been any improvement in the quality of river water due to faulty planning, lack of knowledge about river systems and mismanagement of funds.”

First Published: Jul 09, 2018 12:25 IST