Bhubaneswar, Sept. 15: Water of at least six major rivers in Orissa are unsafe for drinking, the Orissa State Pollution Control Board has said in its report on river water quality status.
The survey, done over a period of five years, tested the quality of water in stretches of the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Rushikulya, Nagavali and Subernarekha near major towns and industrial areas.
“The water is very polluted in areas like Cuttack, Paradip and Brajarajnagar. It’s unfit for drinking and can’t be purified by conventional methods,” said board chairman L.N. Patnaik.
The board has divided water into five categories — A, B, C, D and E. While water in the A category can be used for drinking without conventional treatment but after disinfection, the B grade water may be used for outdoor bathing. The C grade water can be used with conventional treatment and disinfection while D is used for aqua-culture and fisheries purposes. E category is used for irrigation and industrial cooling purposes and has a pH level between 6 and 8.5.
The board’s findings for towns located near this rivers found that the water quality in none of the rivers conformed to C standard.
The board monitored the water quality on parameters such as colour, odour, visible effluent discharge, dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, total coliform, faecal coliform, turbidity, presence of chloride/sulphate/phosphate/cadmium/copper/lead/zinc/mercury and pesticides like BHC, DDT, endosulfan, dieldrin, aldrin, carboryl 2-4-D, malathion, parathion and chloropyrophos.
Board sources said that the presence of micropollutants were found to be high in places like Cuttack situated on the bank of Kathjodi, a subsidiary of Mahanadi, and Rourkela, situated on the bank of the Brahmani.
Environmentalists said that the report indicated the government as well as the pollution control board have failed to check deterioration of water quality in major rivers of the state.
“The board should be disbanded as it has become a toothless body of servile government officials. Since the board has closed its ears, the industries and municipal bodies are using the rivers as sinks,” said environmentalist Biswajit Mohanty.
Patnaik said that the government should address to the pollution concerns of these rivers quickly. “We have to stop the pollution sources. The board can only suggest appropriate maintenance measures, but the government has to take action,” he said.