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Vehicles clean, Subernarekha filthy

The only things that are left to shine in the Jamshedpur stretch of river Subernarekha — named streak of gold for earlier having deposits of the precious metal — are greasy residues of vehicle washes.

East Singhbhum district administration seems to be blind to the rampant washing of hundreds of vehicles on its riverbank.

Since February 2014, five of the 20 poles near Hathi Ghora temple, Sakchi, are missing. Installed jointly by district administration and Jusco in May 2013 to barricade the river flowing by Mango from polluting vehicle washers, five of the poles were cleverly uprooted by the alleged connivance of long-distance bus operators to create enough gap to let in vehicles near water for washing.

Five months on, the missing poles have not been reinstalled, despite the glaring sight one kilometre away from the district collectorate.

More glaring is the sight of hundreds of long-distance buses, trucks, SUVs and three-wheelers lining up for their daily wash at Subernarekha ghats. Every wash leaves oil, lubricants dirt and other toxins into the river. Cleaners also dump solid garbage into the waters.

Contacted, East Singhbhum additional deputy commissioner Ganesh Kumar said they had written to Jusco to install poles in February.

“We asked Jusco to install poles. I am not aware if they had been erected or not or whether they had been stolen again. I will speak personally to Jusco officials again,” said Kumar.

On Wednesday noon, The Telegraph found cleaners scrubbing two long-distance buses parked right beside the banks of Subernarekha.

“It is good business for cleaners,” said one of them, Bhuiyandih resident Prashant Sharma. “We clean buses, tempos and cars. Charges vary according to the size and type of vehicles.”

Contacted, environmentalist K.K. Sharma, also advisor to Yugantar Bharti, an organisation that crusades to curb environment pollution and conducts lab tests to analyse river pollution, said he was dismayed. “Vehicle washes should be immediately stopped by the administration. Oil from vehicles creates a thin film on the water body and prevents its sub-surface from atmospheric contact near riverbanks and this disturbs the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the water. Grease gets smeared on fins of fish, killing them slowly,” Sharma, who also heads the zoology department at Jamshedpur Cooperative College, said.

According to a recent survey of Yugantar Bharti, dissolved oxygen level in the river in June was between 4 and 4.5ppm (parts per million), well below the permissible 6.5ppm.

Bio-chemical oxygen demand, an index of the quality of organic water, is also high between the river’s Mango and Sakchi stretch at 10-12 mg/litre, when ideally it should be 8-10 mg/litre.

On January 16, 2013, Jharkhand High Court slapped notices on notified area committees of Jamshedpur and Mango for Subernarekha’s pollution and asked then deputy commissioner of East Singhbhum Himani Pande to file a status report on action taken to curb water pollution in February. Installing iron poles was a part of the steps taken to prevent water pollution.