(Feb. 14, 2003)

Diesel dearth is marring the proper working of most of the Intermediate Pumping Stations (IPS) due to which Ganga is receiving raw sewage and untreated tannery waste water. Sadly, such a sorry situation is ascribed to the resource crunch that the departments concerned are reeling under, reflects the Quaterly Monitoring Report of Ganga Action Plan (GAP), conducted by Eco Freinds from November 2002 to January 2003. The report brings out the failures of various civic departments in handling the project effectively.

According to the study, there are many small nalas (drains) that fall into the Ganga directly and pollute the river. The tapping of drains upstream of Bhaironghat (the point from where water is pumped for drinking purposes) leaves much to be desired for. Two drains continue to discharge raw sewage near the water intake point and pose a question mark over the safety of drinking water that is supplied to the Kanpur citizens.

Eco Friends’ findings reveal that the whole objective of GAP to intercept and divert the drains falling into the river has been defeated. At most points, faulty interception of drains cause the sewage to find its way into the river directly rather than reaching the pumping stations. Due to callous tapping, the Nawabganj IPS which has an installed capacity of 15 MLD, receives only 8 MLD sewage. Similarly, Guptar Ghat IPS is receiving less than half of the sewage than its capacity of 3 MLD. The Guptar ghat nala has not been intercepted properly and it still discharges a huge volume of sewage into the Ganga. The story is repeated at the main pumping station which is receiving around 100 MLD of sewage, much less than its installed capacity of 160 MLD. There is no doubt where the remaining 60 MLD goes. It certainly goes into the Ganga.

The study points out the dismal state of 130 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). The plant was commissioned just four years back and it has fallen flat in no time without proving its worth. Today, the plant is treating only 45 MLD and working far below its capacity owing to the sludge handling problems. Four centrifuges provided for withdrawal of sludge have almost become dormant due to corrosion. The reason for the corrosion is the presence of sulphides in the domestic sewage as some leather units discharge their effluent into the sewage line. This makes the functioning of the treatment plant more difficult.

The report clearly states that a conveyance system and four IPS were built under GAP I to carry tannery effluent to the 36 MLD Combined Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP). However, as the IPS are not functional for long periods due to power failures and non-availability of diesel to run the DG sets, untreated tannery waste finds way into the Ganga. Throwing all norms to the winds, some of the leather units have even constructed underground drains from their factory to the Ganga.

At the 36 MLD CETP, the right mix of tannery waste and sewage (1:3) is missing. Only 25 MLD of raw domestic sewage instead of 27 MLD is being supplied to the plant and 11 MLD of tannery effluent is being pumped into the plant in place of 9 MLD. So the volume of sewage has decreased and that of tannery wastewater increased proportionately. The fallout of this is that the waste is not getting diluted or treated as expected and the hardest hit are the villagers who are supplied this water for irrigating their fields. Tests in the past have disclosed that the post-treated tannery effluent contains chromium and other metals in high proportions. Even though the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) three months back issued the state government closure order of all chrome-tanning units (more than 150 in number) which do not have a Chrome Recovery Plant (CRP) and 29 glue factories, the district authorities have failed to take action against erring units due to administrative hiccups.

Apart from this, the non-point pollution in Ganga has not improved at all. In the quarterly study, Eco Friends found that a new dhobighat (a place where clothes are laundered) has cropped up near Koyla ghat while the old one at Golaghat continues to add pollutants in the river. Open defecation along the river goes on unabated. During its survey, the Eco Friends team found 20 dead bodies floating in the 8-km river stretch from the Old Ganga Ghat Bridge to Siddhanath Ghat. On a closer look at the bodies, the team members found that most of these corpses were post-autopsy. Evidently, the police is dumping these bodies whereas there are distinct court directions that it should ensure its cremation in a crematorium. Worse still, in a case that tantamounts to contempt of court, the Kanpur Nagar Nigam (KNN) is spreading the rumour that the charges for cremating even the unclaimed bodies have been increased to Rs 500 whereas such cremation should be done free of cost. It is another matter that all the three crematoria in Kanpur and Unnao are non-functional. Thus, the crematoria are lying like white elephants. The study found out that the crematorium at Bhagwat Das Ghat is closed because the city electricity department has severed connection to it due to its outstanding dues which the KNN was unable to pay.

The big poser is: Are the authorities really serious about Ganga de-pollution or are they interested only in cosmetic showbiz? The secretary, Urban Development, UP government has gone on record to admit that if the tanneries do not pay their share of operation and maintenance, the treatment plant may be stopped. Does this reflect the helplessness of the authorities to tackle the problem or do they just want to wash their hands off the whole affair?

On the other hand, there are a plethora of schemes that have been earmarked under Ganga Action Plan Support Programme (GAPSP) to streamline the working of GAP I assets. Work on these is underway. However, the current tardy progress of GAP II leaves one disappointed. The total cost of GAP II is Rs 115 crore, out of which Rs 71 crore has been allotted for constructing treatment plant to treat 200 MLD city wastewater. Even though GAP II is targeted to be completed by 2004, the plant is still under consideration and the procurement of land for it is yet to start. Against such a backdrop, the fate of GAP II does not leave much room for imagination.

Click Here to See Detailed Monitoring Report

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