Release of drain water contaminates canals in ‘Venice of AP’

Some of these drains have high Biological Oxygen Demand levels, making the water unsuitable for drinking, but potentially usable for industrial and agricultural purposes.
Garbage accumulated in Eluru Canal in Vijayawada.
Garbage accumulated in Eluru Canal in Vijayawada.(Photo| Prasant Madugula)

VIJAYAWADA : Despite the civic body’s efforts to keep the three canals in the city clean, inaction over preventing the release of drain water into these waterbodies has resulted in contamination of water.

Vijayawada goes by the sobriquet ‘Venice of Andhra Pradesh as the three canals - Bandar, Ryves, and Eluru - pass through a length of 1,340 km alongside River Krishna, serves as a primary source for drinking and irrigation purpose for the downstream areas.

Several canals near GS Raju Road, SS Convention and Kedareshwarpet, besides Budameru canal, Bandar canal appeared to be contaminated.

According to the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), 71 drains flow into the three canals. Some of these drains have high Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels, making the water unsuitable for drinking, but potentially usable for industrial and agricultural purposes. While all the drains need to be diverted, the VMC officials have so far identified nine highly-contaminated drains and have prevented the water from entering into the canals.

VMC Commissioner Swapnil Dinakar Pundakar told TNIE, “We have redirected the water from a few highly-contaminated drains to the nearest Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs). We are taking measures to close the remaining drains as well.”

He stated that the VMC is rejuvenating water bodies by preventing grey and black water from entering the canals, releasing only stormwater, which is rainwater, into them.

However, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (PCB) Environmental Engineer P Srinivasa Rao said that the stormwater flowing into the canals has sewage in it.

“The city is connected to a 100% UGD (Underground Drainage) system, generating over 150 MLD (million Litres per day) wastewater. Of the total, 130 MLD is directed to STPs, which further flows into the stormwater drains. The BOD level in these drains typically ranges between 40 and 50, indicating low water quality,” he explained.

The discharge of sewage into these canals not just compromises water quality, but also increases the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and diarrhea, as it contains urine, feces and laundry runoff.

In some areas such as Madhuranagar, Gulabi Thota Road, BRTS Road, and Padavalarevu, the water may appear clean on the surface, but it contains plastic covers and garbage underneath, he added.

It may be pointed out that an exercise to improve water quality was taken up under the Mission for Clean Krishna and Godavari Canals (MCKGC). Additionally, the VMC had taken up a project to beautify waterbodies under the Canal Cleaning programme.

Highlighting the efforts taken by the civic body to maintain the canals, Mayor Rayana Bhagya Lakshmi explained, “Nearly 4,000 municipal workers were deployed, and 26 specialised machines were used to clear 6,000 tonnes of garbage from the three canals. At 42 bridges across the three canals, audio announcements are made to educate the public about keeping the city and the canals clean.”

Expressing concern over the matter, CPM State Secretariat member Ch Babu Rao said, “The VMC is focusing more on public campaigns than addressing the issue of garbage disposal into the canals. Unfortunately, the civic body itself is allowing drain water to enter the canals. Although there is a treatment plant located in One Town, it is not functioning properly. The VMC must take immediate steps to prevent drain water from entering the canals.”

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