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Sutlej water quality declining: Study

Untreated sewage, open defecation from project sites and townships, dissolved solids and faecal coliforms (bacteria) have emerged as the largest polluters contributing to the deterioration of the Sutlej river water quality, a recent study has revealed.

The study has also raised a question mark on the proposed Rs 515-crore lift water drinking scheme from the 800-mw Kol Dam on the Sutlej to Shimla city. But Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had appointed a three-member committee of ministers to take up the matter whether to go for the Kol Dam scheme or for the Rs 1,307-crore Pabbar gravity water scheme from the Chandranahan lake in Rohru sub-division.

The presence of total coliform in the river is attributed to organic waste merging with the water at 38 different sites covered under the study.

The total dissolved solid during pre-monsoon season was recorded to be high at the Nogli Khud after it merged with the Sutlej downstream Rampur Bushair town. The total coliform was recorded higher from the permissible limits of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for Class-A water quality, essential for drinking water.

These locations include the outlet of the Karcham-Wangtoo project, the inlet of the Bahba power project, the section of the Nathapa power project and the confluence of the Sorang Nullah, a Sutlej tributary.

The study found that the sewage flows from septic tanks, not designed or maintained properly. The soak pits are faulty, while steep terrain, rapid and intense runoff wash the sewage into the river.

The study revealed that the total coliform and mercury during lean winter months were recorded high in Nathpa barrage sites and at a few other places.

Ghanvi recorded a high biological oxygen demand (BOD), total coliform and occurrence of mercury during the lean season, while total coliform in Pandoa were also observed to be higher in the river.

The dissolved oxygen was observed to be higher than the normal limits due to high river flow rate and velocity, the study said.

The total coliform may be due to runoff generated from melted snow, concentration of organic matter and sediments due to landslide.

The chemical oxygen demand (COD), measures all chemicals (organics and in-organic) in the water, while BOD, measures the amount of oxygen required for the bacteria to degrade the organic components present in water. COD and BOD and dissolved oxygen (DO) ratio varies, signifying deterioration in water quality.

The only solace is that the cumulative impact on the water quality of the Sutluj river medium falls in Class A prescribed by the CPCB, but the study has sounded an alarm on the deteriorating quality of water of the river between Khab in Kinnaur and Kol Dam in Bilaspur.

Parameters

  • The study covered 10 sampling sites to monitor water-quality measuring 27 parameters in the Sutlej river for six months
  • It also analysed another 28 sampling sites on the Sutlej and its tributaries for 14 water quality parameters for three seasons—pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon from November 2012 to October 2013
  • The draft on the Sutlej river basin was conducted by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun, at the instance of the state government

 

 

The Tribune (10/07/2014)