SMC converting Doodh Ganga into a drain
I visited the source of Doodh Ganga in Pir Panjaal mountains one more time, recently. This time I went to Chaz Kani Naad which is a small valley located at an altitude of around 4000 meters. In the past also I have gone to Chazkani Naad, and the surrounding areas like Navkan etc. The glacier near Chazkani Naad is locally called Sheen Kadal (snow bridge) which is used by nomadic Bakerwals and shepherds to move across Doodh Ganga. This bridge never melts. There are few more glaciers located at higher altitudes. They are also important sources of Doodh Ganga river.
During my recent visit I made a 2 minutes video near the Sheen Kadal glacier appealing the people of Chadoora, Wathoora, Kralpora, Chanapora, Natipora and Barzulla to keep the Doodh Ganga neat and clean. I also appealed to authorities to ensure no solid or liquid waste is dumped in Doodh Ganga. The video has reached more than 6 lakh people with more than 3 lakh views & 6.3 K shares on my facebook page only. After this video went viral on social media, I am getting regular calls from people who complain about the unscientific disposal of solid and liquid waste in Doodh Ganga and other water bodies.
Pump Stations on Doodh Ganga
With the support from World Bank, Govt is constructing around 50 Intermediary Pump Stations (IPS) in Srinagar to prevent flooding in low lying areas. Four pump stations are being upgraded by city drainage division of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) at Natipora, Barzulla, Bul Bul Bagh and Magray Pora. The work is going on with full pace.
These areas already had smaller pump stations which have now been upgraded. Not only will the flood / storm water be pumped out into Doodh Ganga but all the liquid waste which includes hazardous waste, human excreta will also get pumped out into Doodh Ganga without any treatment. This is an open violation of the Water (prevention & control of pollution) Act 1974; Section 24 (b) of this act reads
“ No person shall knowingly cause or permit to enter into any stream any other matter which may tend, either directly or in combination with similar matters, to impede the proper flow of the water of the stream in a manner leading or likely to lead to a substantial aggravation of pollution due to other causes or of its consequences “
13 Drainage Stations
The J&K Pollution Control Board now called Pollution Control Committee (PCC) has identified 13 drainage stations from Chanapora to Barzulla as the main sources of water pollution in Doodh Ganga. None of these drainage stations is provided with a sewerage treatment plant (STP) to treat waste water or liquid waste draining out into Doodh Ganga. Ironically there is not even a single sewerage treatment plant (STP) located on the Doodh Ganga from Chadoora to Tengpora bypass ? All the polluted water of Doodh Ganga enters Hokersar wetland thus violating Wetland Conservation & Management Rules 2017 ?
From June 2020 SMC started implementing the World Bank funded scheme for upgradation of 49 drainage stations located in Srinagar city, out of these 13 pump stations that are located on Doodh Ganga would be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs 4 crores each. In the past a huge pump station was constructed on Doodh Ganga at Chanapora bypass which also pumps liquid waste from Gulshan Nagar and Pohru areas into Doodh Ganga. SMC engineers claim that the pump stations only drain out storm water but we all know how many open drains we have in all localities around Doodh Ganga and they will now get flushed into Doodh Ganga.
PCBs report to HC
The J&K High Court had directed the Pollution Control Board to submit a detailed report on pollution in Doodh ganga river after the court had treated a news report as PIL published in Greater Kashmir on August 1st 2020. The report had exposed how liquid waste, fecal matter and sewerage was entering into Doodh Ganga at Chadoora town and then the same water was being lifted by PHE Jal Shakti at Kralpora and supplied to 5 lakh population in Srinagar uptown area.
The Pollution Control Board or PCC on the direction of the High Court conducted a` detailed survey of Doodh Ganga stream from Sogam village in Chadoora to Barzulla area of Srinagar last year. During the survey a lot of water pollution was found in Doodh Ganga , says the report, a copy of which is available with this author. The PCB report says that the main source of pollution in Doodh Ganga is the mechanical dewatering pump stations operated by Urban Environmental Engineering Department (UEED) & Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). The 13 pump stations have already been blacklisted by the Pollution Control Board. In Spite of that the work on upgradation of these pump stations is going on at 8 different locations. I am sure the High Court will take a serious notice of the issue as the matter (PIL) is listed before the division bench on August 20th, 2021.
Barzulla & Bulbul Bagh
The pump station near Bones & Joints hospital Barzulla has a capacity to drain out 5 cusecs of water. This means 5 lakh liters (half a million liters) of liquid waste per hour is drained into the Doodh Ganga from this pump station. After upgradation, 45 cusecs of liquid waste is supposed to be drained into Doodh Ganga, which means 4.5 million liters of waste water will get drained into Doodh Ganga every hour. Are we officially converting Doodh Ganga into a drain ? This is a matter of grave concern and Commissioner SMC needs to take strong notice of it. I believe he is not aware about these pump stations? With such a huge waste water being drained out into Doodh Ganga, one can imagine how much pollution will be caused to Doodh Ganga? The existing pump station at Bulbul Bagh is of 1 cusec per hour capacity and the work is going on its upgradation. This pump station will be upgraded to drain out 15 cusecs of water per hour, which means 1.5 million liters of waste water will get drained into Doodh Ganga. This is disastrous? Waste water as well as storm water is drained out from various localities of Srinagar uptown areas into Doodh Ganga. The localities include Rose lane Chanapora, Khan Colony Chanapora, Afandi Bagh, Pamposh Colony Natipora, Barzulla flyover, Khachar Pora Bulbul Bagh Barzulla, Magray Pora Barzulla. I am not against these pump stations, but my only concern is to create small STPs on Doodh Ganga so that only clean water can be pumped out into Doodh Ganga. In addition to it the pump stations around Barzulla , Bulbul Bagh & Magray Pora should be set up at Tengpora with an STP.
I am unable to understand if city drainage division of SMC or UEED could spend more than Rs 300 crores on these pump stations including the one constructed in 2012 -2013 at Chanapora bypass bridge with the assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB), why not a single Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) was set up to treat this wastewater? Construction of these pump stations without an STP is a criminal offence and the engineers who have approved them should be prosecuted as this violates all the environmental and water pollution related legislations and rules. We need at least three STPs on Doodh Ganga, one at Chadoora , another one at Chanapora bridge and third one at Tengpora to keep this small river clean. Polluting rivers and water bodies is one of the ruinous and catastrophic acts. Not only is this a criminal offence under law but even the religion doesn’t allow to make water unclean. We can't have a huge drain flowing in between the Srinagar smart city. If we don't rectify our mistakes, the future generations will castigate us for our blunders.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow. He is founder and Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement and Anant fellow for climate action…