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Drain water, filth flow freely into Ganga
- Study reveals high level of bacteria in river, claims sewage treatment plants adding to pollution

Patna, Aug. 17: Most of the filth generated in the state capital gets drained into the holy Ganga. The flow continues, unhindered.

A study report prepared for assessment of the pollution of the river, which flows through the state, has concluded that only 17.1 per cent of the sewage generated everyday is treated before being discharged into the river.

The study conducted by Centre of Environment and Nature Conservation (CENC), Patna University, on the assessment of pollution sources and estimation of pollution load in Ganga from Buxar to Bhagalpur, states that 300 million litres of sewage goes into Ganga untreated every day.

The performance efficiency in terms of removal of hazardous pollutants of seven sewerage treatment plants four in Patna and one each in Munger, Bhagalpur and Chhapra is far from being satisfactory. These existing sewerage treatment plants are under-utilised because of the deficiency in the sewage collection system, which means the sewage is not even reaching these plants. For instance, the present capacity of four sewage treatment plants in the capital is 109 million litres per day. But because of various constraints, only 62 million litres are being treated, said R.C. Sinha, the chief co-ordinator of the study and chief executive director of CENC, Patna.

The sewage generated in the state capital from various drains is 222.6 million litres daily, suggesting that 160.6 million litres is going to Ganga untreated causing organic and bacterial pollution, he added.

During the study, it was found that the sewage generated in the entire stretch of Bihar is 362 million litres daily. The installed capacity of the seven sewage treatment plants put together is 135.5 million litres. But the plants outside the state capital are virtually defunct. Consequently, 300 million litres of waste goes into the river untreated.

Sewerage network and sewage treatment plants are presently proposed to be constructed at five different places, including Patna, Begusarai, Buxar, Hajipur and Munger, as part of the National Ganga River Basin Authoritys attempt to clean up the river.

In spite of the seven sewage treatment plants in Bihar, the bacterial count in the stretch of the Ganga in the state has been observed higher than the permissible limit. But in Jharkhand, where sewerage plants are not present, the bacterial count is much lower. This indicates that sewage treatment plants are further increasing the pollution in the river rather than helping it to come down. Thus, the decision of setting up new sewerage treatment plants along the Ganga from Buxar to Bhagalpur will worsen the situation, said Sinha.

Even the World Bank is supporting the project. Earlier this year, World Bank president Robert Zoellick met former Union minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh and agreed to give $1billion for the National Ganga Project.

The study was sponsored by the Central Pollution Control Board.

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