Skip to main content

GPCB admits industry polluted Sabarmati as lockdown 'improves' river water quality

Sabarmati downstream of Ahmedabad before lockdown
By Rajiv Shah 
A new Gujarat government report, “Impact of Lockdown due to Covid-19 Pandemic on Surface Water Quality”, published by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has claimed that the health of several of Gujarat rivers, many of which fall into the list of the most-polluted rivers of India, has improved, thanks to “the enforcement of the national lockdown.”
Insisting that the lockdown has “minimized” the inflow of pollutants into the state’s rivers, the report, prepared by Dr Sweta Patel, scientific officer, Central Laboratory, GPCB, seeks to inquire into the extent of impact of sharp fall in industrial activity “owing to Covid-19 pandemic followed by national lockdown” on the rivers.
Pointing out that the water quality of Sabarmati, a river that passes through Ahmedabad, has particularly improved, the report says, eight different locations, which were previously polluted, have shown considerable improvement in water quality. Sabarmati shot into prominence after Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to sell its 11 km long riverfront as a model for other states to follow.
Especially referring to two downstream spots of Sabarmati, Miroli and Vautha, 25 and 55 km downstream of Ahmedabad respectively, the report says at both of them one could observe “very good impact of lockdown on water quality”, with biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen (COD) improving by “above 50%.”
Notably, a recent study the top Government of India agency, Central Water Commission, identified Vautha, the point after which Sabaramti merges into the Gulf of Khambhat, as one of the dozen most contaminated sites across India requiring "immediate attention to remedy the river waters for drinking purpose concern."
The GPCB report admits, a major reason for the pollution of Sabarmati has been effluents dumped by units in around 20 industrial estates developed by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation – the major ones being Naroda, Odhav, Vatva, Narol and Danilimda – in the Sabarmati Basin area.
It says, “The textile industry continues to dominate the industrial scene in Ahmedabad. The immense urban and industrial growth combined with growing demand of irrigation water has taken their toll as observed by the deteriorating water quality recorded particularly from Ahmedabad city to Vautha.”.
Vadodara's Vishwamitri river
The report further says that the water quality of Sabarmati in Ahmedabad’s 11 km riverfront stretch has also improved, as suggested by GPCB tests at Narayan Ghat, Railway Bridge, Gandhi Bridge and Hansol Bridge. At each of these spots, the water quality has reached the Class A criteria for drinking water after disinfection, though previously it was of Class B – “for outdoor bathing which was before the lockdown.”
As for the downstream, the report underlines, the “dissolved oxygen value” at Miroli and Vautha has “dramatically increased”, indicating “good quality of water for the survival of aquatic fauna and flora.” concluding, overall, “the health of Sabarmati has significantly improved after the enforcement of nationwide lockdown caused by coronavirus outbreak, which has reduce the inflow of pollutants into it.”
To assess water quality of Gujarat’s rivers and other water bodies during the lockdown, GPCB took water samples from 50 different spots
To assess the water quality of Gujarat’s rivers during the lockdown, GPCB took water samples from 50 different spots. Its analysis is based on five parameters: Total dissolved solids (TDS), ammoniacal nitrogen (NH3-N), chemical oxygen demand, (3) biological oxygen demand (BOD) and dssolved oxygen (DO).
Sabarmati is not the only river which has shown improvement in water quality, according to the report. Khari river, a river that passes through Ahmedabad district, has also “observed an improved water quality”, thanks to the “lockdown effect”, it says, adding, “Many of the locations of the Khari river reflects reduced concentration of BOD, COD, TDS and NH3-N significantly.”
“The water quality has been improved at stations of Khari river at Lali village near Ahmedabad, before and after confluence with Kharicut Canal at Ropada, near Dehagam, Naroda Road Bridge, Odhav Kathavada Road Bridge, behind Maradiya Chemicals and so on.
Referring to yet another major river on which a riverfront project has been planned, Vishwamitri in Vadodara, Gujarat’s cultural capital, the report says, on its downstream at Khalipur BOD was found to have been reduced by 42.6%, while COD got reduced 49.4%, indicating the water quality has “improved in the lockdown.”
Further referring to several South Gujarat rivers, which get polluted because heavy concentration of polluting industries in the region, the report says, Damangaga, Kolak and Amlakhadi have also observed “improved water quality” due to reduction of COD and BOD.
At the same time, the report claims, monitoring stations at other major rivers of Gujarat -- Narmada, Tapi, Mahi, Kim, Kaveri and Par – found that “the water quality remains almost unchanged and continues to remain satisfactory as it was before the lockdown period.”
In a Lok Sabha answer to an unstarred question on November 28, 2019, Gujarat’s 20 rivers were identified as “most polluted" -- Amlakhadi, Bhadar, Bhogavo, Khari, Sabarmati, Vishwamitri, Dhadar, Triveni, Amravati (tributary Of Narmada), Damanganga, Kolak, Mahi, Shedhi, Tapi, Anas, Balehwar Khadi, Kim, Meshwa, Mindhola, and Narmada.
Wondering whether the improvement in river water quality is enough, senior environment activist Mahesh Pandya of Paryavaran Mitra said, there is reason to look into why, despite the lockdown, COD, BOD and TDS were found to be higher in some spots. He says, the GPCB report "does not specify the reasons for decrease pollution at some of the spots it has assessed."
Commenting on the report, in a letter to GPCB chairman Mukesh Puri, Pandya said, he has demanded that, based on the report, the Gujarat government should come up with an action plan “so that the environmental conditions could improve after the lockdown comes to an end.”

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.