The Mountain Spring.
That was pure & pristine,
Giver of life & energy,
The biggest benefactor of all living & non-living,
Since primordial times,
Is today under siege,
Weighed down by human greed,
Of grabbing more than needed,
Leaving less for the rest,
Know ye all, A time will come,
When Nature’s bounty
In Part 1, I wrote about the State of the rivers in Karnataka.
The State of rivers pan-India is not very different. The quality of river water has sharply deteriorated pan-India.
The pan-India Water Quality data for 2016 published by the Central Pollution Control Board is amply indicative of the alarming State of affairs. A few snippets from the Report:
The quality of Ganga water in West Bengal at testing Stations Ghoshpara (Monipurghat), Tribeni (Burning Ghat), Palta, Serampore, Dakshineshwar, Howrah-Shivpur, Garden Reach, Uluberia (Stations 2511, 2506, 1054, 1472, 1053, 1471,1470, & 1042 respectively) is so bad that Total Coliform values range between 90,000 to 5,00,000 MPN/100 ml as against the Standard of <5000 MPN/100 ml !!!! It is 18 times 100 times the permitted standard for coliform contamination!!!
The quality of Yamuna water in Delhi & Uttar Pradesh at Testing Stations Nizamuddin, Okhla Bridge, Okhla- A/M Shahdara Drain, Kesighat (Vrindavan),Vishramghat Mathura, D/S Mathura, U/S Agra (Stations 1121, 1812, 2495, 2494, 1124, 1125 respectively) has Total Coliform values ranging 58,000 to 16,00,00,000 MPN/ 100 ml. That would be about 12 times to 32,000 times the permitted standard for coliform contamination!!!
River Hindon in Uttar Pradesh at Testing Stations Saharanpur D/S, Sardhana Budhana Road (Village Baparsi, Meerut), D/S Ghaziabad (Stations 1357, 2496, 1358 respectively) has Total Coliform values ranging from 21,000 to 3,20,000 MPN/100 ml. That would be about four times to 64 times the permitted standard for coliform contamination!!!
Tributary Streams in Bengal like Silabati D/S at Ghatal, Jalangi D/S of Krishna Nagar, Charni D/S of Shantipur, Matha Bhanga at Gobindapur (Testing Stations 2508, 2514, 1764, 2518, 2517 respectively) have Total Coliform values ranging from 11,000 to 16,00,000 MPN/100 ml. That would be about two times to 320 times the permitted standard for coliform contamination!!!
River Brahmani in Orissa at Testing Stations D/S Panposh, D/S Rourkela (Testing Stations 1038, 1302 respectively) have Total Coliform Values ranging from 13,000 to 1,60,000 MPN/100 ml. That would be about three times to 32 times the permitted standard for coliform contamination!!!
Tributary Streams in Tamil Nadu like Vasista at Salem, Thirumanimuthar at Testing Stations at D/S of Sago Industries and D/S Sago Textile Dyeing Industries have total Coliform Values ranging from 26,000 to 9,20,00,000 MPN/100 ml. It works out to about five times to 18,400 times the permitted standard for coliform contamination!!!
This, in a nutshell, is a sample of the State of various rivers in India. While many and stretches have pollution within standards, the concern is that the pollution levels are extremely high in many times as well.
Clearly, the story of the pollution of rivers in India is illustrated across the country.
The condition of Ponds & Lakes is equally grim. The 2016 Report on Water Quality of Lakes, Tanks, and Ponds in various States published by the Central Pollution Control Board gives a broad picture of the kind of deterioration of these resources as well. A few snippets from the Report taking only the Total Coliform Matter contamination is presented below:
Assam– Testing Stations at Mer Beel Lake at Madhabpur, Bor Pukhuri Pond in Nazira, Rajmaw Pukhuri Pond in Jorhat, Gaurisagar Tank, Subhagya Kund Pond in Kamakhya Temple (Testing Stations 2205, 2208, 2210, 2209, 2217 respectively) – all have had Total Coliform contamination touch more than 20 times the permitted standard !!!
Bihar – Testing Stations at Surajkund Pond & Tighi Talab Pond in Gaya (Stations 2573, 2574) have Total Coliform contamination touching values that are twice & more the permitted standards.
Chandigarh – Sukhna Lake (Testing Station 2046) has had Total Coliform contamination touching value that is 300 times the permitted standard!!!
Goa – Saipem Lake (Testing Station 3179) has had Total Coliform contamination touching value that is 18 times the permitted standard!!!
Karnataka – Ulsoor Lake in Bangalore, Yediyur Lake, Bellandur Lake, Varthur Lake, Tubrahalli Lake, Kaikondanahalli Lake, Agaram Lake, Puttenahalli Lake, Arekere Lake, Kalena Agrahara Lake, Hulimavu Lake have had Total Coliform contamination touching atmospheric levels 700 times to even 44,000 times the permitted standard !!!
Orissa – Bindu Sagar North, Narendra Pokhari, Markanda Pokhari, Indradyumna Pokhari, Parvati Sagar Ponds (Testing Stations 2431, 2432, 2433, 2434, 2435, and 2436 respectively) have had Total Coliform contamination touching up to 32 times the permitted standard!!!
Bengal – Lakes Hatishala Ghat, Mainh Ghat, Hanuman Ghat, Mirikh Lake (Testing Stations 2503,2504,2505,2520 respectively) have had Total Coliform contamination touching up to 70 times the permitted standard!!!
Such is the State of the Lakes & Ponds in several states of India. Water pollution caused by faecal contamination is a severe problem due to the potential for contracting diseases from pathogens.
The Report on Water Quality of Ground Water – 2016 published by the Central Pollution Control Board is, by and large, encouraging.
This does not show an alarming trend across India though there are areas of concern or exceptions. A few worrying snippets from the Report are present below:
Andhra Pradesh – Sample from Hand Pump at Testing Stations 3089, 3090 at Tanam Vill & Pittavanipalem in Vishakhapatnam show Nitrate levels around the danger mark of 10 mg/L.
Assam – Sample from Testing Station 2251from Jagiroad near HPC Effluent Discharge Point show Nitrate levels exceeding the permitted standards of 10 mg/L.
Himachal Pradesh – Sample from Testing Station 1872 (MSW Dumping point), 1558 (Baddi), 1877 (Baddi Industrial Area), 1878 (Barotiwala Industrial Area) show that the Nitrate levels have exceeded the permitted standards substantially! 16.9 mg / Litre has been recorded at Station 1558!!!
Meghalaya – Samples from Testing Station 1634 (Police Bazaar, Shillong), 1635 (Mawlai, Shillong), 1638 (Shangpung) have exceeded the permitted standards.
Rajasthan & Punjab – Samples from Testing Stations 1416 (near Pali, Rajasthan), 1898 (Ludhiana), 1723 (Vidhani Village, Rajasthan) have exceeded the permitted standards.
Telangana – Samples from Testing Stations 27 (Peddavoora), 1525 (Ida, Medak), 1795 (Bollaram), 1810 (Sriram Nagar Colony, Sakkar Nagar), 1811 (Rudravelli, Bibi Nagar) have exceeded permissible standards by three times. This is a severe problem.
Above is only a limited list. Nitrate in groundwater originates mainly from fertilizers, percolation out of septic systems & chemicals. High Nitrate content in water is a cause of “Blue Baby” disease.
What is also not captured is that in urban areas, water is increasingly not available at even 1000 feet. This is indicative of aquifers going dry & not getting recharged. Also, water that is being sourced out of borewells is tough, sometimes with TDS as high as over 1000. Should be a significant cause of worry for all.
One can observe a definite trend concerning all sources of water (Rivers, Lakes/Ponds, and Groundwater). These being:
There is a particular trend of significant pollution of water sources.
Water quality is increasingly deteriorating due to various types of contamination.
The leading cause is contamination at several layers in the consumption chain.
There is an increasing trend of water-borne diseases.
The Water Supply & Feeder chain is rapidly getting thinner & thinner. So, the water crisis in India is becoming a standard feature.
It is my view that the Water Crisis in India is not on account of the Supply-side since even in a lousy rainfall year, there is significant catchment possible.
The problem is clearly on the Consumption & Management of the resource.
In the next Part, we will look at particular issues about Consumption and Management of Water.
(First Published in news portal MyIndMakers)