Rivers are our lifelines, yet they are no more than sewage carriers in many places. Of the 302 polluted river sections identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in the country in its recent report, 49 — the highest — are in Maharashtra.
Officials attributed this to a large number of monitoring stations in Maharashtra, which identified more polluted stretches compared to other states.
Partially treated and untreated wastewater, domestic refuse from urban settlements released in rivers, industrial establishments and runoff from the irrigation sector besides poor management of municipal solid waste and animal dung in rural areas were cited as reasons for the pollution.
The polluted stretches were identified for taking appropriate measures to restore their water quality. Almost all policies and programmes on water quality management are based on this concept including the Ganga Action Plan and National River Action Plans, said CPCB officials.
“The exercise is part of an ongoing programme under which all the state pollution control boards have been asked to monitor their water quality. Once we know which stretches are polluted, appropriate action on their cleaning and restoration will be undertaken. Funds may also be disbursed to states under the National River Conservation Programme. The restoration and cleaning programmes will be based on Ganga Action Plan (GAP) model,” a senior CPCB official told TOI.
Stretches of rivers that did not meet the established standards were identified as polluted. As the level of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) varied widely, the same were prioritized in five categories based on BOD concentration ranging from more than 30 mg/l, between 20 and 30 mg/l, between 10 and 20mg/l, between 6 to 10 mg/l and between 3 to 6 mg/l. Higher the BOD, higher the amount of pollution in the test sample.
Stretches where BOD concentration exceeded 30 mg/l were categorized in ‘priority I’, which means more attention will be given to restoring such stretches and they will be taken up first under the restoration plan.
Maharashtra has four stretches in priority I of the 34 in the country, 5 in priority II, 18 in priority III, 12 in priority IV and 10 in priority V.
The report added that waste management systems have not been able to keep pace with the huge volumes of organic and non-biodegradable wastes generated daily.
Consequently, garbage in most parts of India is unscientifically disposed and ultimately leads to increase in the pollutant load of surface and groundwater courses. In most parts of the country, wastewater from domestic sources is hardly treated, due to inadequate sanitation facilities.
This wastewater, containing highly organic pollutant load, finds its way into surface and groundwater sources, very often close to dense pockets of human habitation from where further water is drawn for use.
Poor environmental management systems— especially in industries such as thermal power stations, chemicals, metals and minerals, leather processing and sugar mills— have led to discharge of highly toxic and organic wastewater.
This has resulted in pollution of the surface and groundwater sources from which water is also drawn for irrigation and domestic use. The report added that enforcement of regulations pertaining to discharge of industrial wastewater and limits to extraction of groundwater need to be strengthened considerably, while more incentives are required for promoting wastewater reuse and recycling.
Vena, Wainganga, Godavari, Bhima, Krishna, Ulhas, Kundalika, Tapi, Girna, Panchganga, Nira, Bhatsa, Rangavali, Chandrabhaga, Vashishti, Mithi, Kanhan, Koyna, Amba, Amravati, Bindusara, Darna, Ghod, Gomai, Hiwara, Indrayani, Kan, Manjra, Mor, Morna, Mula, Mula-Mutha confluence, Mutha, Panzara, Patalganga, Pavana, Pedhi, Pehlar, Penganga, Purna, Savitri, Sina, Surya, Urmodi, Vel, Vaitarna, Venna, Waghur and Wardha.
Source: Timesofindia, 29’Mar