Untapped drains, under-used STPs continue to pollute Hindon, Yamuna rivers
The Hindon river gets untreated discharge of about 371 MLD, largely due to the misspent installed STPs, as well as untapped drains.
About 25 to 30 years ago, the Hindon was so clean that if you tossed a coin into the river, you would have found it easily, says Mohar Singh, a farmer in Karhera village, located near the river.
The 48-year-old is among the thousands of farmhands who are forced to depend on the polluted waters of the Hindon to irrigate their fields. He is also among the hundreds who have only the polluted Hindon canal water available to wash their produce before selling, at the Ghaziapur vegetable mandi.
“The things have changed now. The river water now carries chemicals and other effluents, which we have to use to irrigate our fields. The vegetables are cultivated with contaminated water. We often contract skin disease due to contact with the polluted water. We have no other source to bring water to our fields and use submersible pumps to draw water from the river,” Mohar said.
Ghaziabad city houses eight of the 10 functional but under-utilised sewage treatment plants (STPs), located over the river stretch from Saharanpur to Ghaziabad.
At 43%, the STPs are running well below their installed capacity, whereas 29 of 31 drains over the stretch remain untapped by STPs while only two are partially tapped, according to the Uttar Pradesh pollution control board’s (UPPCB) ‘Action plan for restoration of polluted stretch of river Hindon’.
As a result, the river gets treated discharge of 224 million litre per day (MLD) of sewage and untreated discharge of about 371 MLD, largely due to the misspent installed STPs, as well as untapped drains.
The river, according to official statistics, gets a total discharge of 674 MLD out of which sewage discharge is about 595 MLD while industrial discharge is about 78 MLD.
“The untapped drains on one hand and the underutilised STPs on the other largely affect the river water quality. This also put residents at risk of contacting disease due to consumption of vegetables and fruits cultivated through the use of highly contaminated water. It is high time that untapped drains are tapped and linked to under utilised STPs. Otherwise, it is waste of huge amount of investment made with public money,” said Dr Chandravir Singh, a retired scientist of the Haryana pollution control board.
Dr Chandravir had filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal for revival of groundwater which faces contamination by three rivers – Hindon, Krishni and Kali (West) – flowing through western Uttar Pradesh.
“The flow of pollutants to the river regular also affects the groundwater in nearby areas. It takes a minimum of 40 to 50 years to get rid of contaminated ground water conditions,” he added.
There are about 90 villages, including Karhera, located on the banks of the polluted stretch of the river from Saharanpur to Ghaziabad. The total population is estimated at about 3.8 lakh. Besides, there are 453 water polluting industrial units, primarily consisting of sugar, pulp & paper, distilleries, textile, slaughter houses and tannery units, among others.
According to data with the pollution control board, the 10 STPs include eight from Ghaziabad and one each in Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar.
The eight STPs in Ghaziabad are at – trans-Hindon (56 MLD), Govindpuram (56 MLD), Morti (56 MLD), Sadullabad in Loni (30 MLD), two in Indirapuram (74 MLD and 56 MLD) and two in Dundahera (56 MLD and 70 MLD).
The have a combined installed capacity of 524.5 MLD whereas the utilised capacity is 224 MLD. Their average capacity utilisation is only 43%.
“At ground level, the problem is that the STPs are not run properly and have failed to tap the major drains which discharge untreated into the river. What is needed are installation online effluent monitoring systems so that agencies such as the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the like can monitor discharge in real time and keep a check on discharge beyond permissible norms,” said Vikrant Sharma, a city based environmentalist.
“There are hundreds of other outlets from illegal settlements constructed over the flood zone areas of the river. These outlets release untreated sewage into the river. Apart from this, untreated industrial effluents are also released into the river and this is common knowledge. Together, these factors pollute the river Hindon and the discharge is further carried to the Yamuna,” he added.
Recently, the regional office of the UPPCB had recommended levying an environmental compensation cost against six STPs in Ghaziabad. This was recommended after water samples collected between January and July were found surpassing prescribed pollution norms.
Officials, though, say the treatment plants were meant for sewage from residential areas which have not been fully occupied yet, hence the underuse.
“Several of our STPs are running below capacity as they were designed for housing schemes where population is yet to arrive. We have asked the agencies to prepare a plan for tapping the drains. There is strict check of norms at our STPs and there is no discharge of untreated water,” said VN Singh, chief engineer of the Ghaziabad development authority.
The UP solid waste monitoring committee had, in June this year, taken a stern view of eight major drains in Ghaziabad discharging untreated water into the river Hindon. The eight drains were – Jwala drain, Arthala drain, Kaila Bhatta drain, Indirapuram drain, Dasna drain, Pratap Vihar drain, Karhera drain and Hindon Vihar drain.
“We are preparing a project for untreated drains and making a plan to tap them at the earliest. The is being done on directions of the National Green Tribunal,” said Dinesh Chandra, Ghaziabad municipal commissioner.