Despite Court Campaign, Doodh Ganga Dying as Drain

While Srinagar Municipal Corporation has been trying to false-front the blacklisted stations in the city as “storm water pump stations”, the bare fact remains there that the pumping stations are very much traditional ones, which emit all the sewage into the river Doodh Ganga.

 By Mubashir Bhat

AFTER losing its ‘milky’ waters to chemicals, waste, plastic, and other pollutants, river Doodh Ganga is fast becoming a drain despite World Bank funds meant to restore some of its glory failing to come to its rescue.

The liquid and solid waste ceaselessly goes directly into the river in huge quantities despite the civil society’s campaign and the judicial rebuke.

And the same contaminated water is the drinkable water source to many parts of Srinagar and Budgam areas.

“The sewage and waste water is the main cause of the contamination of this water body,” said Muhammad Ramzan, a resident of uptown Srinagar. “The consumption of polluted and infected water is jeopardizing our health to a great extent now.”

The inhabitants have been time and again reaching out to government due to the alarming deterioration in water quality of Doodh Ganga in the face of barrage of pollutants flowing into the water stream at different points.

Taking cognizance of the dilapidated condition of the river Doodh Ganga due to high levels of pollutants in its water, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court under a Public Interest Litigation of its own motion, ordered the directing respondents to take necessary action for preservation of Doodh Ganga Water Stream and Doodh Ganga Water Filtration Plant located at Kralpora.

The investigation report by the JK Pollution Control Board—now Pollution Control Committee—identified 13 Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC)-run drainage pumping stations as the main pollutant carriers, as none of these drainage stations had a sewerage treatment facility before throwing the effluent into the river.

The unfortunate turn of events started unfolding for the inhabitants when SMC started upgrading 49 Drainage Pumping Stations located in and around Srinagar City under a Scheme funded by the World Bank.

And the targets included upgradation of most of the 13 blacklisted Pumping Stations identified by the pollution board as being the main sources of pollution to Doodh Ganga.

Furthermore, to the dismay of common masses, the upgraded versions shall again have no provisions for the sewage treatment plants.

While SMC has been over several occasions trying to false front the blacklisted stations as “storm water pump stations”, the bare fact remains there that the pumping stations are very much traditional ones, which emit all the sewage into the river Doodh Ganga.

One of the drainage ejection points on the adjacent end of the Bund at the doorstep of Bone and Joint Hospital Barzulla, is a great hazard — especially for the patients, as it stinks round the year.

In the context of river Doodh Ganga, upgradation clearly conveys more and more drainage effluent going into the water source.

“Most of the pollution takes place in Chadoora where large quantities of liquid waste get drained into Doodh Ganga,” said Raja Muzzafar, an activist.

In the Barzulla belt, which the pollution board has established to be the most polluted stretch of Doodh Ganga on the basis of its water analysis report, the quantum of liquid pollutants going into the river shall increase from around 1.0 million litres per hour to staggering 10.5 million litres per hour once upgraded versions drainage stations are operated.

Amid this free flow of pollutants, the situation is shaping up as a death writ for River Doodh Ganga. And the consequences could be tragic.

“The government must take necessary steps and the SMC needs to be reined in before an environmental disaster strikes the water body,” said Nadeem Qadri, a noted environmental advocate from Kashmir.

“Doodh Ganga being a very important part of ecosystem needs to be protected. We launched an online campaign, Save Doodh Ganga Canal, to create awareness. Also, the de-filtration of the river has not taken place from quite long. Hence, it has become a victim of government’s apathy. Court has passed detailed orders related to conservation, protection and preservation of Doodh Ganga.”

But irrespective of the court order, Qadri said, the government seems very much non-serious about eco-restoration of Doodh Ganga canal which is very critical when it comes to flood mitigation and other ecological services.

“One of the core arguments of Public Interest Litigation is also throwing the drainage water directly into Doodh Ganga. It’s not only going to change the ecological character of the river but equally contributing to the harm to the aquatic life.”

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