Polluted Musi proves to be health hazard for TS ryots
Industrial effluents and domestic sewage dumped in water bodies of Hyderabad finally end up in Musi affecting the health and livelihood of thousands of farmers who use the polluted water for irrigation. Around 12,000 hectares of area is irrigated with Musi water.
HYDERABAD: Industrial effluents and domestic sewage dumped in water bodies of Hyderabad finally end up in Musi affecting the health and livelihood of thousands of farmers who use the polluted water for irrigation. Around 12,000 hectares of area is irrigated with Musi water. Keeping in mind that most of the farmers own about one hectare of land, at least 12,000 farmers are involved in farming with the polluted river water.
These figures were cited in a study, “A livelihood in a risky environment: Farmers’ preferences for irrigation with wastewater in Hyderabad, India” conducted by researchers from Ghent University and International Water Management Institute.
The study reports that in the area irrigated by Musi water, main agricultural produce is paddy followed by vegetables and para grass. Closer to Hyderabad mainly leafy vegetables and para grass are grown.
Leafy vegetables grown in Musi water are sold in almost every vegetable market of Hyderabad and para grass is used by dairy farmers as fodder for their cattle.
Sewage, the source of irrigation to farmers in summer
Around 118 people involved in agriculture using Musi water were interviewed by the researchers. About 80 per cent of them said that they never faced water crisis in the last five years although 2015 proved to be a rain deficient year. This should not be surprising as Hyderabad generates more than 1,300 million litres of sewage on a daily basis almost all of which ends up in Musi river, half of this without being treated. In summers, it is literally the sewage which proves sole source of irrigation to the more than 12,000 farmers.
The study reported that 66 percent of the farmers reported health problems like itchy skin, skin rashes, foot cracks, joint pain and fever. It is not that the farmers were unaware of the health hazards of using polluted water for irrigation but only 18 per cent of the respondents said that they have access to other sources of water besides the polluted river.
Decrease in crop yields
While organic waste and other nutrients from sewage helps in crop growth, salts and other chemicals cause salinity in soil and decrease its quality. Most of the 118 respondents reported decrease in crop yields. It was also found that level of cadmium in the soil irrigated with Musi river exceeded European union maximum permissible level in 47 per cent of tested samples.
When asked by researchers, most of the farmers said that they would like the government to treat the sewage water before letting into Musi which would help them grow commercially viable crops. Some even said that they were ready to pay money for treatment of polluted water. However, the onus of treating polluted water falls on polluters and government and not farmers, noted the researchers in their study.