Water quality of Devika at Purmandal deteriorating at alarming rate: Analysis

All Govt agencies maintain blind eye towards river of faith

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Apr 26: Putting a big question mark on the functioning of all the concerned agencies of the State Government, a latest analysis has revealed that water quality of holy River Devika at Purmandal is deteriorating at an alarming rate because of varied reasons and if the prevailing scenario is further allowed it will lose its sanctity in the coming years.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that following sanctioning of water quality monitoring station at Purmandal under National Water Quality Monitoring Programme of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the State Pollution Control Board early this month set into motion an exercise to analyze the quality of water of Devika River.
Accordingly, the scientists of Pollution Control Board collected samples—one from the gate of main temple and another from hand pump installed at 50 metres downstream to access the water quality in comparison to the desired parameters.
The detailed analysis of samples brought to the fore shocking scenario as all the critical parameters for surface water bodies were found much beyond the standard limits assigned for classification of river water quality under Designated Best Use (DBU), sources informed.
As per the standard parameters, the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) should be less than two milligrams per litre but the same in respect of Devika River was found more than two milligrams per litre. Similarly, Chemical Oxygen Demand should be less than 9 mg per litre but the same is over 10.5 mg per litre in respect of Devika River at Purmandal.
Moreover, at several places the colour of water was found yellowish besides emanating foul smell, sources said, adding “the outcome of analysis clearly reveals that quality of water of river of faith is deteriorating at an alarming rate”.
“The main reasons behind deterioration in quality of River Devika water at Purmandal are direct discharge of wastes from nearby establishments, encroachment of river, cremations at undesignated locations within the river bed particularly in front of gate of main temple and extraction of minor minerals etc”, sources said quoting the reasons recorded by the Pollution Control Board scientists in their report to the Regional Director.
Holding all the concerned Government agencies responsible for deterioration in quality of water that too at an alarming rate, sources said, “it has been noticed by the Pollution Control Board that no serious step has so far been initiated to maintain purity of the water of sacred river”, adding “even people living in the immediate vicinity and those visiting the place for cremations are responsible for the prevailing condition of River Devika”.
“By performing cremations on river bed and ignoring designated places the people are themselves contributing to the pollution of Devika instead of playing their role in maintaining sanctity of the river”, they said.
It is pertinent to mention here that one cremation shed has been constructed upstream of the bathing ghats by the Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority near Shiv Temple and another adjacent to the Purmandal Bus Stand.
Based on the latest analysis, the scientists have recommended that District Magistrate Samba should issue necessary directions to prohibit the cremation of dead bodies in River Devika. Moreover, they have stressed that Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority and Directorate of Urban Local Bodies should ensure that local establishments don’t discharge the sewage/liquid waste into river without any treatment.
“The Development Authority and Revenue Department should take immediate steps to check encroachments so that natural river course may not get disturbed”, sources said quoting the recommendations, adding “it has also been stressed that Department of Geology and Mining should check extraction of minor minerals from the river at both sides to avoid soil erosion and to enrich the underground water sustainability”.
They disclosed that keeping the analysis report as also recommendations of scientists in mind the Pollution Control Board has written to all the concerned authorities for initiating corrective measures on war footing basis so that water quality of river of faith is prevented from deteriorating further.
With the sanctioning of water quality monitoring station under National Water Quality Monitoring Programme, the State Pollution Control Board will analyze water quality of River Devika at Purmandal after every two months as such action on the recommendations of scientists will also get checked, sources said.