Special Properties of River Ganga | 20 Apr 2019

A study commissioned by the Union Water Resources Ministry to probe the “unique properties” of the Ganga found that the river water contains a significantly higher proportion of organisms with antibacterial properties.

  • Other Indian rivers also contain these organisms but the Ganga, particularly in its upper Himalayan stretches.has more of them.
  • The study, ‘Assessment of Water Quality and Sediment To Understand Special Properties of River Ganga,’ began in 2016 and was conducted by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI), a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab.
  • As part of the assessment, five pathogenic species of bacteria (Escherichia, Enterobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio) were selected and isolated from the Ganga, Yamuna and the Narmada and their numbers compared with the bacteriophages present in the river water.
    • Because bacteriophages are a kind of virus that kill bacteria, they are frequently found in proximity to each other.
    • In the river Ganga, the bacteriophages were detected to be approximately 3 times more in proportion than bacterial isolates.
    • These bacteriophages holds great potential as an antibacterial pharmaceutical.

Other Findings

  • The water quality at most locations in the River remains below the BIS Drinking Water Quality Standards.
  • Heavy metals like chromium, aluminium, manganese, arsenic, chromium and lead were found above the Drinking Water Quality Standards at select locations were found.
  • Organic contamination, mostly from domestic sewage were found.
  • The overall water quality remains below the drinking water standards for chemical parameters but also pollution due to discharge of domestic sewage warranting immediate attention in controlling sewage and waste disposal even from villages and towns besides cities.
  • Microbiological parameters viz., total coliforms, faecal coliforms and E. Coli also show an increasing trend in terms of degree of contamination.
  • Major causes of finding pharmaceutical and hormones in River water are sewage/industrial wastewater discharge and anthropogenic activities.
  • Presence of high organic (disposal of ritualistic material and offering such as flower, milk etc.) and inorganic (such as agricultural and industrial flow containing phosphorus, nitrogen and micro-nutrients) pollutants and disposal of sewage support the growth of planktons in river Ganga. Thus, disposal of ritualistic material must be prevented from entering the river.