“Ganga changes colour, turns black” by Binay Singh, Times of India
Singh, B. “Ganga changes colour, turns black.” The Times of India. 24 December 2010.
Ganga changes colour, turns black
By Binay Singh
December 24, 2010
VARANASI: The Ganga is turning blackish in Varanasi and reporting high concentration of carbon particles. The coloured effluents coming out of the paper mills in Uttarakhand are being held responsible for the changing colours of the National River as observed by member National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) and coordinator of the Centre for Environmental Science and Technology (CEST), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), BD Tripathi.
“I was really shocked to see the black-brownish colour of the Ganga. It is a serious matter as the change in colour is not just because of the organic matter going into the river with the sewage discharge,” Tripathi told TOI on Friday. He said he had written letters to the chief ministers of UP and Uttarakhand to take appropriate measures to save the Ganga.
Tripathi, who is also a member of the State Ganga River Conservation Authority of Uttar Pradesh, made a survey of the river in Varanasi on December 22 and found that not only the colour of the water had turned brownish but carbon particles were also found at the shallow locations of the river bank.
“It is a matter of serious concern and proper investigation of the source points of such coloured effluents should be done. The industrial effluent from the tanneries of Kanpur is generally greenish. Only the effluents coming from textile and paper mills are blackish and brownish,” said Tripathi. He added since there was no paper mill in this part of UP, it was most likely that the colour of water would have changed due to the effluents of paper mills in Uttarakhand. According to him, there are many paper mills situated along the Dhola and Ramganga– tributaries of the Ganga– in Uttarakhand.
Scientifically the organic matters of sewage get decayed after some time and did not travel long distances, he said and added only coloured effluents had the potential to travel a long distance. “If the Ganga water in Varanasi and Allahabad is turning brownish or black, it means there is high concentration of coloured effluents in the upper stream of the river,” said Tripathi. He said it should be properly examined by both state governments and appropriate and remedial steps should be taken immediately.
“Since both chief ministers are also the members of the NGRBA, I have written letters to them to draw their attention,” he said and added he had also talked to the officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to direct the state pollution control boards for remedial and preventive steps. In his letter to the chief ministers, Tripathi said beside some of the identified industries, there were thousands of small-scale and cottage industries located in and around the cities. Unfortunately the State Pollution Control Board has not prepared a list of all such industries. He further stated that they has no specific information about the total number of industries working, quantity and quality of sewage and industrial effluents discharged to main and branch sewers, point and non-point sources of pollutants, area-based quality and quantity of solid wastes disposal, ecologically sound higher dilution discharge sites, hospital wastes, radioactive materials, toxic chemicals released from various sources, solid wastes of non-degradable building materials, pesticides and insecticides, number of dead body disposal, pollutants released from cremation grounds, temple wastes, quantity of plastics and possibilities to establish economic community treatment plants.
“I requested the chief ministers to issue necessary directives to the officials concerned to collect the required information and prepare a suitable management plan for its further consideration,” said Tripathi. He would also raise the matter before the Prime Minister in the next meeting of NGRBA, he said.
On the other hand, when the officials of regional office of the UP State Pollution Control Board were contacted to know the exact number of industries discharging effluents into the river, they were unable to provide the data. However, an official said the number of such industries varied from time to time. Meanwhile, a team of pollution control unit along with administrative officials had gone to close three saree printing units in Bajardiha area on Friday. “Closure order was issued against nine units. Out of them, six were already closed,” said SV Franklin, one of the officials of the pollution control unit.