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“Ganga water not even fit for agriculture” by STAR News Bureau

Ganga water not even fit for agriculture

STAR News Bureau

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Delhi:  The Ganga has been a symbol of the nation’s culture and civilisation, the basis of people’s emotional beliefs.  When this sacred river, entwined with traditions and mythology for centuries, meanders through the plains, it satiates the thirst of dwellers, bringing them prosperity and contentment.  The sacred river’s own life, however, has not been a very happy one.

The latest statistics from an annual research carried out by STAR News and Shriram Institute for Industrial Research reveal that the Ganga water is not even fit for immersion, let alone drinking.  The water cannot even be used for farming and agriculture anymore.  Long revered for its pristine purity, the river is losing its sanctity after towing garbage, dirt and waste material.

Like in 2010, STAR News and Shriram Institute collected the water sample during the same time of the year from nine places on the course of the Ganga.  Though the amount of water in the river and the level of chemical contamination has fallen compared to last year, there has been a significant rise in the concentration of micro-organisms in the water.  The research points at three other concerns for the river – while water turbidity (clarity) and iron content have increased, oxygen-level in the river has fallen.

The Ganga, which flows 2,525 km from the Himalayas into the Bay of Bengal, is the lifeline for 40 per cent of the country’s population.  As per the research, almost a billion litres of untreated sewage water is drained into the river every year.  According to the research, the river is swarming with micro-organisms – the quantity of deadly bacteria such as E-Coli (which recently caused 35 fatalities in Germany and sparked a Europe-wide alert) is rising and the water has now become poisoned.  The water continues to pose a threat to people in terms of being a reservoir of diseases such as typhoid, viral fever, ear infection, gastroenteritis and Hepatitis A.

Gangotri:  Unsafe for drinking
Dev Prayag: Unfit for farming
Kanpur:  Alarmingly dangerous bacterial levels
Rishikesh:  Unfit for farming
Malda:  Unfit for holy dip
Haridwar:  Unfit for farming
Allahabad:   Armies of E-Coli

Last year’s findings by STAR News had revealed that the Ganga starts getting polluted right from Gangotri onwards – and the pilgrimage town is barely 20 km from Gaumukh, the source of the Ganga.  This year too, water samples were taken from the places STAR News frequented last year – four places in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh each.  Many cities flourish on its banks.  Last year’s findings had placed Kanpur as the place where the Ganges is at its worst.

The Most Probable Number (MPN) of coliform, a common indicator of contamination in water is 26 in Gangotri, 22,000 in Dev Prayag, 14,000 in Haridwar, 3,500,000 in Kanpur, 70,000 in Allahabad, 35,000 in Varanasi, 46,000 in Patna, and around 900 per 100 ml in Malda.  As per IEAS 10500-1991, its threshold should not exceed beyond 10 per 100 ml of water.  The abysmally high quantity of Coliform bacteria indicates that the water is unfit for drinking, farming or even taking dips.

As compared to last year, the increase in the quantity of these microorganisms is minor in Gangotri but has doubled to 7000 per 100 ml in Rishikesh.  The case is no different for E-Coli bacteria, amries of which thrive in Gangotri, Dev Prayag, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna and Malda.

Over the years, the government has spent crores on trying to revive the Ganga and even international conservation groups have voiced concern over the dying river.  But unless strict curbs are placed against dumping industrial waste in the river, Swami Nigamanand’s sacrifice to save India’s lifeline will be in vain.

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Genre: Wastewater Issues Articles
Subjects: Wastewater Issues