What is poisoning the Precious Rivers of the Uttrandhra Districts?

What is poisoning the Precious Rivers of the Uttrandhra Districts?

Unlike the other districts within the state of Andhra Pradesh, the three districts namely Srikakulam, Vizianagarama and Vishakhapatnam that are part...


Unlike the other districts within the state of Andhra Pradesh, the three districts namely Srikakulam, Vizianagarama and Vishakhapatnam that are part of northern coastal AP are blessed with fresh water bodies in abundance. In total Northern AP coastal districts procure 200 TMC of water every year from two major rivers namely the Nagavali and Vamshadhra along with their innumerable tributaries, including Bahudaa, Mahendra Tandava, Suvarnamukhi, Gostani, Meghadrigedda , Sharada, Vegavathi, Bodderu, and Champavathi. With more than 40000 water tanks, reservoirs and falls, these three districts constitute one third of the water sources in the state. Yet, they are plagued and polluted and are not fit for immediate human and animal consumption for a variety of reasons.

Water ecology as a topic has emerged prominently to the forefront in these days with an aim to analyze the quality of the water we use for various purposes. Water remains as lifeline for the agriculture, domestic, and industrial needs. Although the rivers of Uttrandhra district are instrumental in supplying water to various needs, its quality remained very poor. Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APCB) has awarded 'C' category to the river waters of the Nagavali and Vamshadhara as there is high presence of coliform bacteria in these rivers, indicating mixing of human faeces. A river with 'A' category water quality is pure and can be used with minimal treatment. To be qualified as 'A' category, the water should not have more than 50 MPN/100 ml and the 'B' category should not have more than 500 MPN/100ml.

Water quality is generally determined by its physical, chemical, biological and esthetic appearance. Factors like appearance, odor, taste and the presence of microorganism, which is harmful and contagious, determines the water quality. Rivers are generally subjected to variety of environmental influences in their catchment area. Factors like population pressure, urbanization and industrialization affect the water quality.

It remained as a fact that most human civilizations since ancient times flourished on the river banks establishes the importance of water in the entire human history. The relationship between the man and the ecosystem however has been changing since the pristine period. The water bodies were considered precious and divine so that their sanctity was maintained in the past. Excessive human intervention and the indiscriminate rush for the mechanization and industrialization has resulted in the violation of the laws of the nature, damaging the natural resources like land, water and the air. The river is also part of the water cycle and relies on the rain water in its catchment area. Factors like deforestation, urbanization, and violation of nature's law by releasing the toxic industrial waste, and the mix of drainage water are the basic factors for the river water contamination in India.

Originating from the Southern Odhissa, the river Nagavali flows towards Srikakulam in Northern AP, covering 256 kilometers (161 Km in Odhissa and the rest in AP). Jhanjavati, Barha, Baldiya, Satnala, Sitagurha, Srikona, Gumudugedda, Vottigedda, Suvarnamukhi, Vonigedda, Relligedda and Vegavati are its tributaries. Vamshadhara originates in the border of Thuamul Rampur in Odhissa, travels 254 kilometers before joining the Bay of Bengal at kalingapatnam in Srikakulam. Mahendratanaya is its chief tributary.

Nagavali suffers heavily due to industrial and medical wastage and the drainage water flowing in its catchment area is being dumped into it. apart from; The JK paper mills located at Jayakyapur in Srikakulam district is directly discharging pulp and the other chemical effluents from the industry into the river. It is affecting the physicochemical characteristics like TSS, TDS, EC, and COD of Nagavali River. It influences the parameters like temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, total suspended and dissolved solids and chemical oxygen demand. As many as 50 hospitals located in and around the Day and Night junction in Srikakulam are also releasing the hospitals waste directly into the drain which is passing into Nagavali. As a result of drainage water, bio-medical waste and the industrial wastes the water quality of the River Nagavali is deploring.

Water quality Statement of Nagavali monitored at Thotapalli;

The river Vamshadhara is facing serious threats from the Vedanta aluminum refineries that is operating at Lanjigarh , a town in the Kalhandi district in Odhisha. According to the local people of Srikakulam, a crack in the western part of the red mud pond of Vedanta Alumina refinery is leading to leakages, entering the river. Toxic wastes of the aluminum refinery are thus contaminating the river water here. The native people residing at Srikakulam are apprehended that the leakage may be severe or worst during the monsoon season, when heavy downpour is expected. All over the world

Water quality report on the River Vamshadhara is stated below;

The 'C' category water contain higher pH value, lower dissolved oxygen (DO), higher biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), higher count of total coliform bacteria and more turbidity due to higher total dissolved solids (TDS). The C category water is not fit for human consumption and demands conventional treatment and disinfection before making it potable.

All over the world, the companies are acting responsible in discharging the toxic waste and they are severely punished if the impeach the thumb rules set for the environmental protection. Although we have green tribunals and the other machinery to monitor the safety and the security of the natural resources, neither the companies nor the governing authority are adhering to the laws. Violators are not strictly punished for contaminating river waters, which may harm the aquatic eco system, consisting flora, fauna and microbes that are essential for the survival of the marine biota. Political pressures, highhandedness of local mafia, corruption, negligence of the authorities is causing huge damage to the environment, for which the civilians and aquatic animals like fishes, turtles and the microbes that are essential to maintain the river health would have to pay huge penalty.

The governments at the central and the state level are already spending millions of public money in repairing the damages. Instead, there must be a mechanism that would prevent such violations. There must be a regular and periodical drive to create awareness on civilians, who should be part of monitoring and vigilance committee. Communities must be engaged in safeguarding the river waters at their respective areas and the violators, especially the major multinational companies must be punished severely for impinging the fresh water bodies.

Dr Srinubabu Gedela completed PhD from Andhra University and post-doctorate from Stanford University. The research work is part of Pulsus Group CSR activity

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