At least 43 villages along the Sabarmati riverbank are heavily contaminated by three decades of toxic industrial wastewater dumping into sewage lines, stormwater lines and pumping stations. Not only that, the more serious damage has been inflicted upon the soil at these places where heavy metals have been found in hazardous proportions as per the recent study.
The study conducted at eight places — Visalpur, Gyaspur, Khada, Asamali, Kaloli, Chandisar, Saroda and Kasindra — found that the metal substance prevalent in the samples are in excess of WHO and European standards.
The pollution and the toxicity are at an alarming level. It is only thanks to the active intervention of the Gujarat high court in 2021 that a certain amount of control is achieved in unchecked pollution.
The wastewater released into the Sabarmati and then used by farmers to irrigate the fields over the years has caused the appearance of zinc 421 g per gram of soil; manganese 336 g, copper 201 g, chromium 71 g, nickel 51 g, lead 42 g and cobalt 9 g per gram of soil.
Similarly, the elements in the sewage water samples were found to vary in the high range like cobalt 2.1-2.2 g per ml, chromium 1.4 to 1.9 g; copper 0.1 to 0.9 g; manganese 0.2-3 g, nickel 1-1.9 g, lead 0.4-1.6 g and zinc 5.1-19 g. The research study was carried out by Bibhabasu Mohanty of the School of Technology at PDEU.
The seriousness of the pollution can be gauged by the fact that the average chromium concentration was found to be three times higher, 12 times in case of lead, twice in case of copper, almost 13 times in case of manganese and 2.5 times for zinc. The average nickel concentration was exceeded by a factor of 6.
Scientists say that heavy metals in the soil do not decay for decades. While lead lasts for 22.26 years, cadmium for 6 to 38 years and nickel lasts for 76,000 years before decaying. The arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, iron, manganese and zinc found in contaminated areas have done incredible damage to our natural ecosystems spoiling our atmosphere, water sources, and soil habitats.