Haridwar: A Haridwar-based environmental scientist has refuted the contention of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that the water of the Ganga at Haridwar is not fit for bathing. TOI had in a report last month cited an RTI response received from the board which said that the river’s water in Haridwar district failed almost all parameters of safety during tests conducted at 11 locations in Uttarakhand, from Gangotri to Haridwar, a distance of 294 km along the river.

B D Joshi, an UGC emeritus professor and former head of the zoology and environmental sciences department at the Gurukul Kangri Univerity at Haridwar, claimed on Wednesday that a study conducted by his university evaluated the river’s water on six parameters –temperature, turbidity, total dissolved solids (TDS), dissolved oxygen (DO), biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chloride, and found that the water cleared quality levels in all parameters. “Of course, there are a few exceptions like the time during the rains, or during major events like the kanwar yatra or Kumbh mela that the water quality may dip, but to make a generalised statement that the river’s water is unfit for bathing is unjustified. In fact, based on our study, I can say confidently that the water is not only fit for bathing but also for drinking,” Joshi said.

He added that samples from the river in Haridwar were taken during all twelve months of the year and an average of the data of all parameters calculated. “The samples were taken from four sites of the west Ganga canal near Jwalapur. These included a nullah at Kassabaan carrying the city’s sewage as well. Another sample was from a ‘confluence’ where the nullah goes into the canal. Two other sites are the ‘pre-confluence’, 200 metres upstream of the sewage and ‘dilution’, which is 500 metres downstream of the confluence),” Joshi told TOI. As per analysis of the data, by the time the water entered into the dilution zone, its pollution characters were mitigated and reached the normal level. This, Joshi said, is attributed to the vast difference between the average amount of water in the sewage (about 80.5 cusecs per day) and in the canal (about 8016.8 cusecs per day). “The canal’s water had a diluting and mitigating effect on the physico-chemical qualities of the nullah’s water,” he said.

As per the study in the pre-confluence, sewage, confluence and dilution zones, total dissolved solid (TDS) (in mg/litre) was 156.66, 401.25, 273.12 and 163.12, and dissolved oxygen (DO) (in mg/l) was found to be 8.51, 1.99, 4.50 and 8.50. Biological oxygen demand (BOD) (in mg/l) was 1.90, 60.21, 38.79 and 1.99 and chloride (in mg/l) was 15.85, 53.72, 39.44 and 16.48. “BOD up to 3.5 mg/l, DO above 5 mg/l and low levels of TDS are indicators of good quality water,” Joshi said.

He claimed that CPCB’s ‘Water Quality Criteria’ puts water in five categories, three of which are used for drinking. However, none of these can be used for drinking without some kind of treatment. “Ganga water, even if only sieved, is better for drinking than most other kinds of water,” Joshi asserted.

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