Ganga ji during lockdown

28 July 20

Lockdown and Clean-Ganga

There was widespread media news about Ganga ji becoming clean during the period of complete lockdown due to covid pandemic in India. Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF) monitored the Ganga water quality along the religious bathing area of Ganga in Varanasi to find out the impact of complete lockdown on Ganga water quality. Sampling and analysis of Ganga water was performed on 4th and 7th of April 2020 (during the period of lockdown). Ganga water samples were collected from near the Nagwa confluence and Tulsighat and analyzed in the laboratory. The parameters viz. Total dissolved Solids (TDS), Dissolved Oxygen, Biochemical Oxygen Demand and Fecal Coliforms were tested. The results obtained have been compared with the results of water quality obtained on 6th March (before the lockdown).

 The water quality results in terms of dissolved oxygen (an important component of water for the survival of aquatic life) obtained on 4th and 7th April (during the period of lockdown) at Tulsighat and Nagwa show relatively higher dissolved oxygen (DO) as compared to 6th March (before the lockdown). This can be attributed to enhanced photosynthesis due to stoppage of discharge from factories and absence of activities like bathing, laundering, plying of motor boats, cattle wallowing due to complete lockdown in the city. It should also be noted that water temperature on 4th and 7th April (during the period of lockdown) was slightly higher than on 6th March. In spite of this, improved DO value has been obtained at Tulsighat and Nagwa.

The Fecal Coliform Count (FCC) values obtained on 4th April and on 7th April (during the period of lockdown) is significantly higher as compared to 6th March (before the lockdown). Fecal Coliforms are the indicators of the presence of pathogens in water. This can be attributed to discharge of concentrated raw sewage because of shutting down of factories, colleges and their hostels and other offices where huge amount of water is used which dilutes the sewage. This may also be due to the quantitative reduction of inhibitors like detergents in the sewage which retard the multiplication of bacteria. The BOD values obtained on 4th April and 7th April (during the period of lockdown) at Tulsi Ghat and Nagwa is also slightly higher as compared to 6th March (before the lockdown).

The above water quality results obtained indicate improvement in dissolved oxygen content of the river due to improved photosynthesis during the period of complete lockdown. In the river no bathing or laundering activity was taking place. No floating objects could either be seen in the river during the period of lockdown. The level of BOD and Fecal Coliform Count was found significantly at higher side. Effluents of Nagwa nalla were carrying very little foam indicating people not using much detergent at home. Factories, industries, hospitals, shops, offices almost everything was closed and people were within their homes. Sewage was flowing into Ganga ji. The period of complete lockdown has clearly indicated that the anthropogenic activities are mainly responsible for pollution in our water bodies.  Prevention of discharge of sewage into Ganga ji and its management with the help of an efficient technology will make the river pollution-free.

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