Thursday, March 21, 2013

Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink

Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink

BHUBANESWAR: Rivers of Odisha are far more polluted than what is projected by the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), pointed out experts at a seminar here on Wednesday. As the board is yet to put an effective system in place to monitor river pollution, samples collected from the rivers to ascertain the pollution level are not foolproof, said panelists at the seminar on water quality organized by OSPCB.

According to environmentalists, Brahmani, Baitarani and Mahanadi are bearing the brunt of industrial pollution in the state. "The OSPCB may be claiming that only 12% pollution in these river systems is contributed by industries, but the truth is different. Brahmani basin, which is taking pollution load from industrial clusters from Rourkela to Kalinga Nagar, has been rendered a dead river with its water containing cyanide, phenol, coal chemicals and coliform bacteria," said activist Ranjan Panda. There is direct flow of these dangerous effluents from the industrial units round the clock and the monitoring by OSPCB is done only once a month, which is grossly flawed, Panda pointed out.

Release of ash water and other wastes from thermal power stations into the Brahmani adds to the pollution. There are at least three ways through which waste water from power plants and their colonies is being released into the rivulet Nandira which merges with the Brahmani. A thick layer of oil and other polluting chemicals on the surface of the river water has become a common sight. This has endangered aquatic lives and also affected agriculture in neighbouring villages," conceded an official of OSPCB on condition of anonymity.

Environmentalists feared Mahanadi is heading the same way owing to the dependence of a large number of industries on the river. "Though Brahmani is the most polluted river at present, falling in the E category as per the standard set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Mahanadi is soon going to face a similar situation," said Panda. At present Mahanadi accounts for 62% of the state's total industrial water allocation with 57 industries drawing about 12,95.167 cusec water on a daily basis, the activist informed. "If such huge quantity of water is drawn from the river for industrialization and the industries in turn release deadly chemicals into the river, the situation is going to be more dangerous than what we perceive it to be," he stressed.

Mahanadi, whose basin area is 65,628 sq km area, has 32 pollution monitoring zones set up by OSPCB. There are 25 and six such zones for Brahmani and Baitarani respectively. "We collect samples from the monitoring areas once a month. Mostly the samples are collected during the day or in the evening," said senior environmental scientist B N Bhol.

-          Riyan Ramanath V, TNN | Mar 21, 2013, 07.03 AM IST

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