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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Report unveils poison rivers - Jharkhand fares miserably in CAG water audit


Report unveils poison rivers

- Jharkhand fares miserably in CAG water audit
SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA
Ranchi, Jan. 15: A first-ever water pollution audit carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pegged Jharkhand at the bottom of the performance chart with most river conservation projects lying incomplete in the state.
According to the report, Performance Audit of Water Pollution in India, the Ganga, Damodar and Subernarekha were selected for pollution abatement projects in Jharkhand under the National River Conservation Programme (NRCP), which was launched in 1995.
As part of the programme, 15 projects were taken up at a cost of Rs 4.38 crore in 12 towns — Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Ghatshila, Bokaro-Kargali, Chirkunda, Dugdha, Jharia, Ramgarh, Sahebganj, Sindri, Sudamdih and Telmachu.
The report was tabled in Parliament on December 16.
The audit test-checked four projects being implemented under NRCP in Ranchi and Jamshedpur to control pollution in the Subernarekha at a cost of Rs 2.2 crore, and found that intended objectives had not been achieved.
The report said a crematorium to be constructed as part of one of the projects in Jamshedpur at a cost of Rs 54 lakh, which should have been ready by 1996, was yet to be built. A low cost sanitation project for which community toilets were to be constructed, also did not take off.
As far as the riverfront development plan was concerned, three ghats — Baroda, River Meet Point and Mango — out of a proposed six, had been completed and handed over to the local bodies between July 2002 and April 2003.
The riverfront development project in Ranchi was to be completed in July 1997 but out of the proposed five ghats, only four — Hatia bridge, Kachnar Toli, the one near Subernarekha bridge and Namkum (Khijri) bridge — were completed and handed over to RMC in 2001.
Ironically, the state had no information about the sewage generated, treated and discharged into Subernarekha in Jamshedpur and Ranchi, the report said.
On the water quality of Subernarekha after it left Jamshedpur, the report said while levels of total coliform, which indicates organic pollution, were not measured, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) met the criteria.
The BOD level in Subernarekha was .9 and .8 while entering and leaving Jamshedpur respectively.
BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present at a certain temperature over a specific time period.
Interestingly, the state government did not furnish any information regarding dissolved oxygen (DO) and BOD in Subernarekha before it entered and left Ranchi. DO refers to the volume of oxygen contained in water.
The CAG also found the state lacking updated database on sewerage generation and other parameters.
“The total sewage generated in various cities of Jharkhand is 908.68mld (million litres per day), according to 2005-06 data of the Central Pollution Control Board, for which no treatment capacity is available,” the report said.
The state government was yet to prepare an inventory of water resources including rivers and lakes. It had also failed to assess water quality with respect to biodiversity indicators, quantification of contaminants and assessment of impact of human activities.
The government had also not prepared a policy for water pollution, programmes for prevention and control of water pollution and constitution of Water Quality Review Committee, the CAG said.
Ironically, the CAG report said in none of the blocks of Jharkhand is the ground water over-exploited, critical or semi-critical. The contaminants found in ground water in Jharkhand are fluoride, iron and nitrate.
The annual replenishable ground water resource in Jharkhand was 5.58 billion cubic metres (BCM) and the net annual ground water available was 5.25BCM.
Sources in the state government, however, said the CAG findings on the ground water were based on 2004 data.
Only recently, the drinking water and sanitation department had raised an alarm over depleting ground water level in at least eight blocks. Four blocks, Jamshedpur sadar, Godda, Kanke and Jharia, fell in the over exploited category. Dhanbad sadar and Ramgarh sadar were in critical position while Ratu and Chas blocks were semi critical.
Urban development secretary N.M. Kulkarni admitted there was a problem, stating that though his department was the nodal agency for NRCP, it was the duty of the State Water Pollution Control Board and the drinking water and sanitation department to take a call on the issues raised by the public funds monitor.