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Pollution killed aquatic life in Sabarmati

 AHMEDABAD: Unchecked littering has cost us our rivers and this is particularly true about Sabarmati which today has more garbage than water downstream in the city. Religious paraphernalia thrown from bridges, agricultural waste, pesticides and fertilizers from monsoon run-offs, parts of riverbank turned into illegal garbage dumps and illegal discharge of industrial effluents and domestic sewage into the Sabarmati are all evidence of our indifference to this lifeline that once breathed life into the city.

Further, rise in quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus-based chemicals in the river has led to increased algal growth. This in turn has led to a phenomenon called, 'Eutrophication,' that is harmful for aquatic life.

A recent research done by Monika Panchani of the Environmental Department of LD Engineering College has held Amdavadis responsible for the mess in the city's river. The research showed that people throw more than 153 tonnes of religious waste from the river's bridges in a year. This is true as the AMC had removed close to 22,000 tonnes of garbage - the waste had accumulated over more than seven years - from a 10-km stretch between Indira Bridge and Vasna last year.

The research also reveals how the nitrogen and phosphorus content of the water of the river has been increasing and promoting algal growth that is now choking the Sabarmati. Panchani has calculated that, in a year, 33.06 tonnes of phosphorus compounds are added to the river by surface run-offs, agricultural activities and garbage dumps between Indroda park in Gandhinagar and Vasna bridge. This leads to a 284-tonne increase in nitrogen content of the river water in a year.

"A lot of the pollution in the Sabarmati is because of storm water run-off, waste from religious activities, dhobi ghats, idol immersions, animal waste and washing of vehicles. Along with this is increasing quantity of chemical fertilizers and pesticides being washed into the river because of agricultural activity taking place on the banks," said Panchani, principal researcher of the study titled, 'Non-point source pollution-Sabarmati'.

The toxic chemicals from surface run-offs could be from farmlands, nurseries, orchards, construction sites, gardens, lawns and landfills.


 June 9, 2014, The Times of India