The State Pollution Control Board has marked Bharalu as one of the most polluted river stretches in the country, falling under Priority 1 as per CPCB, with a BOD level of 52.0 mg/l, making it unfit for drinking and bathing purposes
Bharalu, a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra, has been serving as the natural drainage system of the Guwahati city, carrying sewage and waste materials from markets, commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, schools, etc.
The depleting state of the river is now a major concern that needs immediate attention. The obnoxious smell from the river is another reason for the health-related issues of the denizens.
Ramen Das, a resident living near the Bhangagarh area of the city, says, "It is the people who are to be blamed for this pathetic condition of the Bharalu."
A 92-year-old resident of the Anil Nagar area of the city, recollecting his childhood days, said that he used to play and walk along the Bharalu when he was a primary school kid.
"The river was clean and flowed from the Khasi Hills to the mighty Brahmaputra. But now we cannot walk because of obnoxious smell and encroachment," he lamented.
The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) and other concerned authorities must design long-term strategic plans to clean and rejuvenate the present depleting state of the Bharalu, apart from taking a proper sewage-treatment measurement before disposal.
The residents should also act responsibly, dump their waste materials in the designated dumping grounds, and use Green and Blue dustbins.
A combined effort of citizens and authorities is the need of the hour for a cleaner Bharalu.
According to conservationists, in the last 50 years, the tributary has become akin to a heavily polluted drain, becoming the root cause of severe flooding in the city.
As the Brahmaputra is the primary source of drinking water for Guwahatians and its neighbouring areas lying on both sides of the riverbank, the inputs to the river through the tributaries mustn't be excessively loaded with pollutants.
Bharalu's pollution level is one of the major sources of contamination affecting the overall quality of Brahmaputra's water.
Of the 44 polluted river stretches in Assam, three rivers — Bharalu with a river stretch from Guwahati to Chilarai Nagar, Borsola stretching along Sarabbhati area in Guwahati and Silkaso in the Chachal area of the city are marked under priority 1 of the polluted river stretch as per CPCB with a BOD level of 52.0 mg/l, 34.0 mg/l, and 34.0 mg/ l, respectively, and the actions plans for the same are yet to be received by the CBCB.
The State Pollution Control Board has marked Bharalu as one of the most polluted river stretches in the country, falling under Priority 1 as per CPCB, with a BOD level of 52.0 mg/l, making it unfit for drinking and bathing purposes.
A source from IIT Guwahati informed that Bharalu's water had been contaminated by industrial waste and chemicals.
If treated properly, this can also be used as fertilizers if discharged to paddy fields after reducing the unwanted substances it carries.
Bringing to light a serious concern, the source also informed that hardly 4 km from Bharalumukh, where Bharalu discharges its dirty water, Gammon India is working on a project, installing pipelines and plants to intake water from the Brahmaputra river to meet round-the-clock water supply to every location in Guwahati.
It is high time for the commoners and the present government to ponder how to save the Bharalu and devise ideas to help clean the river. Action is needed now, or else we will witness the death of the Bharalu soon.
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Kabir Chakraborty, who has completed his post-graduation in mass communication and journalism, is a Guwahati-based journalist and has worked in several media outlets in various capacities. Apart from reporting on burning issues, Kabir is also a passionate poet and a photographer who is also into filmmaking.