Water

No major improvement in river water quality during COVID-19 lockdown: CPCB report

The pollution board monitored the quality of the country’s 19 major rivers between March and April

 
By Sushmita Sengupta
Published: Thursday 24 September 2020
The water quality improved only slightly in the Yamuna during COVID-19 lockdown.

The water quality of India’s major rivers did not improve significantly during the lockdown imposed to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report.  

The CPCB report, submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on September 16, 2020, monitored and compared the quality of the country’s 19 major rivers between March and April. It was done as part of the green court’s direction to all states / Union territories to ensure execution plans for sewage treatment plants, effluent treatment plants and central effluent treatment plants.

The state pollution control boards and pollution control committees assessed the quality of 19 rivers: Beas, Brahmaputra, Baitami & Brahmani, Cauvery, Chambal, Ganga, Ghaggar, Godavari, Krishna, Mahanadi, Mahi, Narmada, Pennar, Sabarmati, Sutlej, Swamarekha, Tapi, Yamuna.

According to the report:

At least 387 river water samples were collected in March; 365 were collected in April. At least 299 out of 387 (77.26 per cent) monitored locations complied with the parameters listed under the Primary Water Quality Criteria for Outdoor Bathing during March; 277 out of 365 (75.89 per cent) locations in complied with the same in April.

An improvement in water quality was observed in rivers Brahmani, Bramhaputra, Cauvery, Godavari, Krishna, Tapi and Yamuna due to closure of industries and reduction in human activities such as outdoor bathing, cloth washing, etc. On the other hand, water quality in Beas, Chambal, Sutlej, Ganga and Swarnarekha deteriorated due to high sewage flow and lesser volume of water.

The impact of the lockdown was more palpable on the 22-kilometre stretch of the Yamuna that flows through Delhi. Unseasonal rains in the city, however, may have played a bigger role than the lockdown in improving its water quality.

The river water quality was assessed on parameters pH, Dissolved Oxygen (DO), Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Fecal Coliform (FC). The results were compared with the Primary Water Quality Criteria for Outdoor Bathing notified under Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. 

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