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No Fear No Favour

Having a dip in Ganges to rinse-off your sins? It may lead to greater risk of contracting diseases, claims study

A recent study by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has found that the water quality of Ganga river is abysmal in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh because of severe faecal pollution.

An analysis of the 2017 official data showed that a dip in the holy river, especially in these two states, may expose an individual to high levels of faecal coliform (FC), an indicator of the potential pollution of water with faecal material, Hindustan Times reported.

Found in excreta that contaminates water through untreated sewerage, FC Bacteria such as E.coli can put you at a much greater risk intestinal infection if the water is consumed.

In Uttar Pradesh, most polluted stretches were Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi. Of the 16 stations surveyed in the state, eight did not meet the desired standards.

In Bihar, FC level was found beyond permissible limits at 88% of the stations.

The permissible limit for FC is 2,500 MPN (most probable number) /100 ml, while the desired level is 500 MPN/100 ml.

In Allahabad, at Sangam where the Yamuna converges with Ganga, the FC level was found to be 5-13 times the permissible limit.

At Kanpur’s Jajmau pumping station, FC levels were 10- 23 times the standard limit.

The data from West Bengal was not available but a 2016 analysis of the water quality showed high levels of FC contamination.

The CPCB data shows that Ganga is cleanest as it flows from its source in Uttarakhand with all the station reporting satisfactory water quality.

Despite its importance, Ganga is one of the dirtiest rivers in the country as it has become a dump yard for industrial and domestic effluents.

Moreover, the Sewage treatment capacity in the 97 major towns on the river is less than half of the total sewage generated.

Even the much publicised Namami Gange mission has not been much successful. A total of Rs 20,000 crore was earmarked for the clean Ganga mission but the project, according to a CAG report, is not delivering expected results.

The CAG data found that Government had only used 24% of the allocated amount for the flagship programme between April 2015 and March 2017.


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