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

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue?

By Dankesh Oza*
The 115-year-old Gujarati Sahitya Parishad is in election mode. More than 3,000 life members of the Parishad are set to elect its 52nd president and 40 plus central working committee (CWC) members, which in turn will elect its executive and two vice presidents, six secretaries and a treasurer for the coming three years (from 2021 to 2023).

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

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.

Atrocities against Dalits: Why don't MPs, MLAs from the community ever speak up?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
In Gujarat, a young Dalit activist lawyer Devji Maheshwari, belonging to the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMSCEF) was killed in Surat, allegedly by a goon who was warning him against his Facebook posts not to speak up against Brahmanism. Facts have come to light suggesting there are other issues also which led to the murder, mostly related to land disputes, many a time ignored by activists.

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”