Hyderabad: The Musi has earned the dubious distinction of being the most polluted river in Telangana in the latest National Green Tribunal (NGT) report, while Nagole was named as a highly polluted location.
According to the report on polluted river stretches published by the TS Pollution Control Board (TSPCB), high levels of coliform were discovered in the river, along with imbalanced levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) and biological oxygen demand (BOD).
From January to June 2022, the NGT had monitored eight stretches of the Musi, Godavari, Krishna, Manjeera, Maneru, and Kinnersani using 26 different locations and eight parameters. These included DO, pH, conductivity, BOD, total coliform, free ammonia, boron, and SAR (Sodium Adsorption Ratio).
The eight stretches which were monitored, include from Hyderabad to Nalgonda (Krishna, Musi), Gowdicherla to Nakkavagu (Manjeera), Gandilachapet to Sevalal Thanda (Nakkavagu), Palvancha (Kinnersani), Warangal to Somanpally (Maneru), Basara to Khammam (Godavari), Thangadi to Wadapally (Krishna).
Nagole had the highest levels of pollutants among the 26 locations, with a BOD of 18 mg per litre, low dissolved oxygen (DO) levels of 0.3 mg/l, coliform levels of 1600 mpn/100 ml, and conductivity of 1,395 millisiemens/centimetre (mS/cm), indicating that the water is unfit for human and animal consumption.
BOD is the amount of oxygen required to remove waste organic matter from water; DO refers to dissolved oxygen in the water which is available to living organisms. Conductivity is the ability of water to pass an electrical current. Coliform indicates presence of disease carrying organisms. pH refers to the alkalinity or acidity of water.
Stretches of Manjeera, Nakkavagu, and Palvancha showed low levels of coliform and somewhat balanced DO and BOD, with Godavari being the least polluted and river Krishna being the most polluted. All the stretches were found to have a pH level greater than 7, in the range of 7.2 – 8.5, indicating that the water in all of the rivers is highly alkaline and unfit for drinking.
“Musi is the major source of pollution of rivers in the state, and Manjeera is the major hotbed of water pollution as it receives pollution from Musi river in the Miyapur zone, and even Krishna and Godavari waters are polluted by Musi water at various confluences,” said Dr B.V.Subbao Rao, environmentalist and member technical of Water Domain, Bureau of Indian Standards.
“The pharma and chemical industries in south and west Hyderabad, which discharge pollutants into the city river, are major sources of river pollution.”
The Mancherial-Kothagudem stretch was a linear bed hotspot of pollution in the Godavari due to mining activities, as was Karimnagar, which was also a climate hotspot due to mining activities. The mining belts in Godavari and Musi were high radiation temperature zones, which influenced climate change by making the region more prone to cloudbursts in the long run.
According to the experts, in order to have complete and inclusive information and data on river pollution, a scientific strategy and approach were required so that the ground reality about the existing pollution levels could be monitored in order to adopt a solution-oriented approach. D.Narsimha Reddy, a public policy expert, stressed that the report should include more parameters such as heavy metals, compounds, pesticides, and antibiotics to broaden the scope of the assessment and address the issue.
“The parameters in the reports are from old methodology,” he explained, “while the need of the hour is to consider major contributing factors to river water pollution using scientific understanding. Because river, ground, and lake water are all interconnected in a cycle, a comprehensive approach is required to address not only river water pollution, but also groundwater pollution.”