Heavy metal contamination in south’s rivers

Study of water from 48 sites shows high concentration of arsenic, copper, zinc

Published: 10th April 2017 02:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2017 05:34 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Is the government doing enough to protect water bodies from metal contamination or even to detect said pollution?
A study conducted by researchers from two Japanese and another two Indian institutions as part of which water samples were collected from 48 sites of Ennore, Adyar, Cooum, Periyar, and Vrishabhavathi river basins in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka and at six lakes in Hyderabad has raised this pertinent question.

For a similar CWC report, water samples were taken from two sites of the Periyar river whereas in the study by the Japanese and Indian researchers water samples were taken from 21 sites.
The study of south Indian water bodies involved ten researchers from National Agriculture and Food Research Organisation and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Japan and University of Madras and Manipal Institute of Technology.

The study found that five sites of Vrishabhavathi river, three sites of Cooum river, six sites of Periyar river and one site on Ennore river to be the most polluted having high concentrations of the trace elements, including metals like Copper, Arsenic, Vanadium, Selenium, Chromium, Magnesium, Lithium, Nickel, Strontium, Iron, Molybdenum, Calcium, and Rubidium, of the 48 sites from where the water samples were collected.

Following this, three sites of Kaveri river, three sites of Periyar and one site of Cooum were categorised as moderately polluted, especially for having high concentrations of zinc and silver.
Four sites of Adyar river, two sites of Cooum and Periyar rivers each, three sites of Ennore river, four sites in Hyderabad lakes were categorised as being less polluted especially for containing high concentrations of Cobalt, Antimony, Caesium, Manganese, Gallium, Barium, Tin, Cadmium, Indium, Lead, Bismuth and Thallium.

While the Pollution Control Board (PCB) in every state claims to be doing everything for control of pollution, a major loophole is that the Sewage Treatment Plants and Common Effluent Treatment Plants for treatment of industrial effluents do not remove metals from the wastewater. Neither is there a standard set by Central PCB for the treated water when it comes to presence of metals.

Hyd lakes in bad state

While studies galore on the presence of metals in water bodies across the country, there is a serious lack of effort from the government when it comes to identifying the source and taking action on remediation of water bodies.
In the water samples collected from Hyderabad, high levels of Lithium have been detected, highest of which is in Isnapur lake. The Lithium levels are higher than the most of the samples collected from water bodies of other states.

Dr MVSS Giridhar, Head, Centre for Water Resources in JNTU-Hyderabad sums it up, “Water bodies have metals and it has been proved. So, what is next? The state governments should take efforts to identify the sources of these metals. Which are the industries that are located upstream and are releasing these metals. There are various remediation measures which are being tested in the universities and research institutions which remain just as a research. These methods should be employed.”


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