Heavy siltation of the Rushikulya river has led to increased conductivity of the water and the river bed has risen up to the land level making it unfit for consumption and even cultivation.
Around 60 per cent of arable land in Ganjam district receives water from this river.
According to a report by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the ability to conduct electricity (conductivity) of Rushikulya is 20 times more than the ideal 2,250 micro mhos/cm, which is highest in the State. The high electrical conductivity may adversely affect the yield per hectare in the district. The river is considered lifeline of the farmers in Ganjam.
The river’s mean conductivity has been estimated 10 times higher at over 20,786 micro mhos/cm and is among the few in the country to exhibit such conductivity.
The CPCB report states that high conductivity would increase the corrosive characteristic of the water, hence it would become unfit for use.
Experts of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology stated that concentration of dissolved salts in the water increases the conductivity. They said dissolution of salts would either be through groundwater or inflow of surface water into the river.
Conductivity not only affects the harvest but also the quality of the soil. Worse still, water availability for the crop would reduce greatly.
This would be catastrophic for the district that has around 80 per cent of its cultivated area under irrigation during kharif season. Surface water has been the mainstay of irrigation in the district.
“Except for a patch work, no steps were taken to renovate the riverbed. The water is unfit for drinking and irrigating,” alleged social scientist Chitaranjan Dash.
He urged the Government to take steps to reduce the conductivity and called for research on the effect on humans if they consumed this water.