BHOPAL: The ongoing lockdown seems to have emerged as a silver lining in the dark cloud for the health of the Narmada river - considered the lifeline of Madhya Pradesh.
The reduced flow of industrial effluents and domestic sewage in the river has made a positive impact on the quality of water in the river which travels 900-plus km through 14 districts of MP, before flowing into Gujarat.
A study of river water samples collected from five ghats of Hoshangabad district - Collectorate, Circuit House, Post Office, Sethani, and Kori ghats - has established a sea change in the Narmada water quality, which is good for humans and survival of aquatic plants and animal species.
The study conducted thrice between April 24 and May 2 by analysing the samples of Narmada water from the five ghats have rendered startling results. The samples were collected and examined by a team led by Dr Ravi Upadhyaya, the professor of botany at Government PG College Pipariya-Hoshangabad on four parameters.
The four parameters, included pH value of water and the presence of dissolved oxygen, suspended solids and coliform bacteria in the Narmada water. According to Dr Upadhyaya, the pH value of the water samples collected on April 24, April 28 and May 2 from the five ghats showed a value ranging between 7.2 and 7.8 on the pH scale, which was neither acidic nor alkaline, but actually very safe for human and animal consumption. Prior to the lockdown the pH value of the river water at same ghats was either acidic or alkaline
Also, against the pre-lockdown period when the dissolved oxygen level in the river water hovered between 5 and 3, the present dissolved oxygen level in the river water ranged between 6.5 and 6.8, which meant the Narmada water quality presently was A Grade.
Further the presence of suspended solids in the river water (higher the presence the dirtier and polluted the water) hovered between 350 milligrams per litre to 450 milligrams per litre, which was significantly lower than 800-900 milligram per litre level of the pre lockdown period.
"This meant the water in the river had become very transparent and clear and of superlative quality," Dr Upadhyaya told The New Indian Express. Lastly, the level of coliform bacteria (greater the fecal coliform, the dirtier the water) showed dramatic decline of six to seven times of pre-lock down levels.
"The analysis of water collected from Kori Ghat (where domestic sewage flows) showed that the level of coliform bacteria had dipped from 500-600 ppm to 35-40 ppm, which meant the river had the cleanest water presently after a gap of several years," said Dr Upadhyaya.
According to the senior Botanist Dr Upadhyaya, the positive sea change in the river water quality has been reflected by the growth in the activity of plants and animal species.
"There has been remarkable growth in plants in the river bank's riparian zone, spawning activity (release and deposition of eggs) of indigenous fish varieties and the stay of migratory birds like Surkhab and Comb Ducks too has stretched up to May first week in contrast to March end of the past," he added.
Importantly, the study of quality of Narmada water conducted by pollution control board in Khandwa, Khargone, and Barwani districts last month too had indicated Grade A quality water in the river, which flows through 14 districts of MP between Anuppur and Alirajpur districts.