REACTING TO the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) report of November 2022 tabled in the Lok Sabha recently, in which it has categorised the Sabarmati River as the second most polluted river in the country, chairman of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (SRFDCL) Keshav Varma admitted that cleaning the river is a “challenge” because it is not a perennial river and it has to be “treated like a lake”.
The “biggest issue”, however, is the untreated sewage that is discharged into the river, he said.
“This used to be a dead river in terms of oxygen. Now we have average 7 per cent oxygen in the river. Nature is conveying that river is relatively clean with fishes coming back. I agree with it that the river is not entirely clean and that is a challenge because it is not a perennial river, it has to be treated like a lake,” Keshav Varma told The Indian Express.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and SRFDCL authorities have claimed to have spent efforts and time on the river.
“However, maintaining the quality of this river is a challenge… we are continuously cleaning, we got more skimmers and everything to clean it and take out the weeds and the coming back of the birds is a certificate that quality of water has improved,” Varma stated.
“We have done it but we cannot claim that the river is clean. The river needs to be continuously under watch. We take BOD and COD levels and percentages of oxygen everyday and these are reported to me. We visit the hot spots,” Varma added.
The November 2022 Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) report has stated that the BOD level in the Sabarmati between Raysan in Gandhinagar and Vautha in Dholka was 292 mg/l, categorising it under Category-I.
On adopting cleaning efforts to be taken in the future, Varma said that SRFDCL authorities are looking at technology but the biggest issue is the untreated sewage that gets into the river.
Varma said that the AMC Commissioner has already taken action to step up efforts to make sure that the sewage treatment is done in a correct manner.
If the untreated sewage stops with building another STP, it improves the quality of river, he stated.
When contacted, Municipal Commissioner M Thennarasan said, “Whatever is released in the river is treated and satisfying all parameters.”
Stating that the river will be clean one day so that people can swim in it, but not in the near future, Varma said, “One day this river has to be such that one can swim but I don’t think one can swim now. I don’t see that happening immediately. We have to wait for four-five years till all the STPs are functioning and we flush the river well and clean it up.”
Citing another issue on what extent the river is clean, Varma said, “Ahmedabad often shows great amount of civic awareness but there are some people who also don’t believe in it and keep spitting in it and keep throwing from the bridges. It has to be a joint effort by the people and AMC and SRDFCL”.