Expressing the need for urgent action, National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Saturday said that three of 15 critically polluted river stretches in the country were flowing through Gujarat, and the water in one of three was “pure poison”.
“More than 351 river stretches in the country have BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) limits that exceed the prescribed limit of 3 mg/litre. In Gujarat, there is Amla Khadi river which has a BOD limit of minimum 43 mg/litre (in the 20-km stretch between Pungum to Bharuch). This is pure poison,” Justice Goel said while delivering a lecture on sustainable development at the Gujarat National Law University.
Amla Khadi is a tributary of Narmada in south Gujarat.
“How bad do you think is the situation of Sabarmati river, where Mahatma Gandhi once lived? From the 80 km-stretch between Kheroj to Vautha, the BOD levels range between 4 and 147 mg/litre. Similarly, in Damanganga river, the BOD level between Kachigaon and Vapi (a stretch of 30 km) is 8 mg/litre. These are the three most polluted rivers where immediate action is required,” he added.
BOD is a gauge of organic pollution of a water body. It is the amount of dissolved oxygen required by microorganisms to break down organic matter in water. The greater the organic matter in the water body, the greater is the BOD, and therefore the lower amount of dissolved oxygen available for animals such as fishes.
According to the NGT chief, dumping of untreated effluents and sewage into the rivers was the major source of pollution in the rivers.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has also identified these three river stretches among the 15 most-polluted river stretches in the country. As per the CPCB, there are around 20 rivers in Gujarat where BOD levels are above the prescribed standards.
Later speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the event, Justice Goel said that the tribunal had conducted an interaction with the state government officials regard river pollution. “They have sought time and said they needed funds,” Justice Goel replied when asked about the outcome of the meeting held last week. When asked about the action that needs to be taken, Justice Goel said that polluting industries have to be banned. “They have no right to do it at the cost of the life of people. It is criminal offence under the Water Act. How can broad day crimes happen in the country,” he said.