It is easy to forget that the Hindon river was once the lifeline of Western Uttar Pradesh. Laden with pollutants and garbage, the river now flows sluggishly. The cause, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), are “effluents discharged from sugar mills, paper mills, slaughter houses and chemical industries” in the area.
The CPCB had filed an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) earlier last week after analysing the river’s water quality. It confirmed that the river wasn’t even fit for bathing.
“Analytical results of the Hindon reveal that its water quality does not meet the prescribed standards of Primary Water Quality Criteria for Bathing Water, according to the notification in series no 93 under the Environmental (Protection) Rules,” the affidavit said. The NGT has sought responses from the Centre and the UP government on the issue.
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The CPCB has made a slew of recommendations such as ensuring that “untreated waste water is not discharged into the river system”. It also suggested suitable treatment of effluents, equipping sewage treatment plants “with a diesel generator set which can be used in case of power failure”, enforcement of rules with regard to dumping of waste along the river, enforcement of industrial units around the river, and freeing it of encroachment.
However, officials admit the problem lies elsewhere. “We are completely understaffed and are in no position to carry out any of the recommendations. Our job has been restricted to monitoring the river’s pollution levels. Year after year, we have been writing about how polluted the river is. Everybody knows about it. But unless we are given the required resources, there’s only so much we can do,” an official of the UP regional pollution control board said.
Earlier in March, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar had talked about the Hindon – which meets the Yamuna near Delhi – in the Rajya Sabha. In a written reply, Javdekar had said that “the dissolved oxygen was as low as 0.4 mg/l downstream of Saharanpur, while adding that high levels of BOD were linked to the discharge of industrial effluents from electroplating and tannery units”.
“The Hindon receives municipal as well as industrial effluents from the township of Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut Baghpat and Gautam Buddhnagar. The water is not fit even for irrigation purposes as the source water is grossly polluted,” he had said.