Karnataka’s rivers not fit for even bathing, let alone drinking, warns pollution board

The next time you want to take a leisurely dip in a river in Karnataka, think again. Fifteen rivers across the state now contain water that is not fit for bathing in, let alone drinking.

Published: 17th June 2019 06:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th June 2019 06:21 AM   |  A+A-

The Tunga river in Shivamogga | Shimoga Nandan

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The next time you want to take a leisurely dip in a river in Karnataka, think again. Fifteen rivers across the state now contain water that is not fit for bathing in, let alone drinking.

A quarterly assessment carried out by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has resulted in several large rivers being classified as unfit for bathing. These rivers fall under the C and D categories of assessment. Category C denotes water which is fit for drinking after treatment, while Category D means that the water can be used only for  propagation of wildlife and fisheries, and is not fit for human consumption or bathing.

Only the Kumaradhara and Nethravathi rivers were placed under category  B, which meant these two rivers were fit for organised outdoor bathing. “These two are the only rivers on the list which are better than others, which is why the government has shown interest in them as their waters can be used after minimum treatment,” said a KSPCB official.

The findings show that Netravathi’s water quality has been consistent from April 2018 to March 2019. According to the report, Arkavathy and Bhadra are at the bottom of the list. They have been listed under Category D from April 2018 to March 2019. Waters of Yagachi, Cauvery, Kabini and Kali have remained in the C category for the past one year.

However, in the case of all other rivers, their category fluctuated between C and D. The report also noted that the water quality of Simsha, when measured in Maddur town, fell under category E (fit for irrigation, industrial cooling and controlled water disposal) from October to November 2018, after which it improved to D category.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines, this means that none of the water bodies were fit for drinking purposes.

The KSPCB assessed the waters of Arkavathy, Lakshmantirtha, Malaprabha, Tungabhadra, Bhadra, Cauvery, Kabini, Kagina, Kali, Krishna (in two locations), Shimsha, Kumaradhara, Netravati, Tunga and Yagachi. The Bhima river was not part of the assessment.

KSPCB Member Secretary Manoj Kumar said the findings were alarming. “The water colour of most of these rivers is brown or even black due to soil erosion and pollutants. The waters are not even fit for bathing. These findings are from January to March, 2019,” he said.

The board assesses the water quality every three months and the findings show that water quality has only been deteriorating gradually. The levels of dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, faecal coliforms and total coliforms were assessed. 

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