Bengaluru's air quality improves, but not its water

Lockdown: Bengaluru's air quality improved, but not its water

Representative image/Credit: Pixabay Image

An examination of stormwater drains and culverts has revealed that Bengaluru’s water quality continued to remain poor despite the shutdown of industrial and commercial establishments during the lockdown.

Bengaluru’s water quality has consistently remained at the bottom of the five categories defined by the Centre. The ‘E’ category means the water is fit only for irrigation and industrial cooling, while the ‘D’ category means the water is fit for wildlife and fishery.

For latest updates and live news on coronavirus, click here

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) officials collected water samples from 26 locations at the height of the lockdown in April and compared them with samples collected in December. The result revealed that only four samples from locations closer to industries had marginal improvement in quality. Even then, it is nothing to boast about as the quality went up from below E to E.

The improvement was seen in samples near the Karnataka Soap and Detergents Ltd, CMTI HMT on Tumakuru Road, Peenya Industrial Area, and Hampapura village.

“While industries and commercial establishments may impact water quality, it is now clear that we have a real problem with the raw sewage from domestic units and that needs to be checked immediately,” said a KSPCB official.

The National Green Tribunal has ordered BWSSB to ensure 100% treatment of sewage by March 2020. But the board has facilities to treat only 622 MLD of the 882 MLD. The board said it is setting up treatment plants to clean up the remaining 260 MLD. The central monitoring committee examining polluted rivers reported that 576 MLD of sewage from Bengaluru was entering the Vrishabhavathi, but authorities chose to classify it as a ‘valley’ instead of a ‘river’, in a blatant abdication of their responsibility.

BWSSB officials did not answer calls from this newspaper. 

Air quality better  

The city’s air quality has shown impressive levels of improvement due to reduced vehicles on the road. A comparison of air quality index (AQI) values before lockdown (March 1-23) and the lockdown period (March 24 to May 17) showed a 34.9% improvement from seven monitoring stations.

The biggest improvement was at Central Silk Board, where the AQI values dropped from 93 to 51, followed by the railway station in Majestic where the values dipped from 118 to 69. Similar improvements were seen in other places, including Hebbal where the AQI came down by 33%.