Hussain Sagar is not polluted: TS Pollution Control Board

Hyderabad: Hussain Sagar is not polluted by bulk drug manufacturing industries, the recent monitoring during lockdown has shown that there is an increase of DO(dissolved oxygen) level in Hussain Sagar and BOD (biological oxygen demand) level has drastically come down.

The monitoring data by Telangana Pollution Control Board (TPCB)

Narayan Reddy – President Emeritus -BDMA had come forward to sponsor the technical investigation study to find out the root cause of Husainsagar lake pollution for the benefit of society and regulatory authority.

A scientific question: Who is responsible for the pollution of Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad?

Photo of Hyderabad’s Hussain Sagar Lake before the lockdown. Photo: Mohammed Hussain

One of the unexpected gains of Lockdown is a huge improvement in Environmental quality.  Air and water in polluted water bodies have become clean. Birds and animals are roaming without fear.  It is reported that the Air Quality Index in Hyderabad City and water quality in the Hussainsagar lake have improved considerably since the lockdown. Water in HussainsagarLake is now clean and transparent. BOD and COD declined dramatically and there is a drastic improvement in the dissolved oxygen (DO). This is a big relief to the citizens and an indirect benefit of lockdown. Telangana Pollution Control Board monitors regularly at various locations around HussainsagarLake and the average figures during the month of January 2020 as published in their web site are as below:

TSPCB Status of Water quality of Hussain Sagar lake for the month of January 2020

   Parameter  Monitored  Boats club Viceroy Hotel Necklace road    NTR Garden Lepakshi Handicrafts   Budha Statue Sanjeevaiah Park Sailing Club
pH 7.44 7.91 7.66 7.89 7.13 7.60 7.36 7.67
EC 1210 1239 1261 1225 1222 1237 1264 1211
DO 4.1 3.4 NIL 2.7 2.8 2.6 2.6 3.2
BOD 3 at 27OC 30 32 37 76 40 44 24 25
COD 104 100 124 252 132 189 96 84
TDS 702 731 756 747 794 12 771 726
Nitrates 34 16 13 18 11 12 9 30
TSS 49 33 40 64 56 92 54 51
Total coliform >1600 >1600 >1600 1600 >1600 >1600 1600 >1600
Fecal coliform 1600 920 540 540 920 540 350 540
Free Ammonia 0.42 1.00 0.59 1.15 0.16 0.52 0.47 0.65

During the month of April 2020 monitoring results have shown that the dissolved oxygen (DO) levels during lockdown had gone up to 7.3mg/lit which as per CPCB norms should be above 4mg/lit. DO levels are required for the substance of aquatic life. The BOD level during lockdown has come down to almost 8mg/lit from a pre lockdown range of 24 to 76mg/lit. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) norms are as given below:

CPCB Water Quality Criteria

Designated-Best-Use Class of water Criteria
Drinking Water Source without conventional treatment but after disinfection A Total Coliforms Organism MPN/100ml shall be 50 or less pH between 6.5 and 8.5 Dissolved Oxygen 6mg/l or more Biochemical Oxygen Demand 5 days 20°C 2mg/l or less
Drinking water source after conventional treatment and disinfection C Total Coliforms Organism MPN/100ml shall be 5000 or less pH between 6 to 9 Dissolved Oxygen 4mg/l or more Biochemical Oxygen Demand 5 days 20°C 3mg/l or less
Irrigation, Industrial Cooling, Controlled Waste disposal E pH between 6.0 to 8.5 Electrical Conductivity at 25°C micro mhos/cm Max.2250 Sodium absorption Ratio Max. 26 Boron Max. 2mg/l
  Below E Not Meeting A,  C, & E Criteria

If the same trend continues very soon the BOD level will come down below 3mg/lit and the DO level is already above 6mg/lit which meets the drinking water criteria of CPCB.

For years, everyone was under the impression that the water in Hussain Sagar was polluted by the effluents from Bulk drug and Pharmaceutical industries. Hence, without any hesitation, one may conclude that it is due to the closure of drug industries during the present lockdown. Obviously, this is the opinion of many of the environmentalists and it is feared that once the lockdown is lifted and with the spurt automobile traffic and industrial activity the air quality index will increase and the water quality will deteriorate.

It may be noted that during the lockdown period all most all the bulk drug units were operating as they were mandated to see that there is no shortage of essential medicines in the country and also meet the export commitments being made by the government. Our industry was also exempted from the lockdown by the State Government in view of maintaining enough stocks of essential medicines. In fact, most of them produced more than the permitted capacity because of the relaxation given by the government.  It means that in spite of the industrial activity, water in   Husainsagar improved dramatically.  How can this happen if drug industries are responsible for the pollution of Hussain Sagar?

It appears that the drug industry is being blamed conveniently since these industries were responsible for the contamination of water resources a long time back. However, during the last 5 to 6 years, all drug manufacturers have gone for Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems and installed Multiple Effect Evaporation (MEE) Plants, Agitated Thin Film Dryers (ATFD), Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants and other units for total recycling and reuse of water.  Hence, they stopped discharging any effluents not only into HussainsagarLakebut also outside the industry. Yet there was no change in the Hussainsagar water quality. But now there is a sea change according to the experts and the TSPCB. How did this happen?

In spite of drug manufacturing units being in operation the improvement in environmental quality in Hyderabad indicates that adequate control and treatment systems are provided and no pollution is caused by the drug and pharma industry. The bad environment quality during normal times could be due to vehicular pollution, discharge of untreated sewage into water bodies and unscientific collection, and handling of solid wastes and in particular the Municipal Solid waste.

A couple of years back based on orders of the National Green Tribunal, CPCB had conducted a detailed study of the industrial areas such as Boll arum, Bachupalli, and Kazipallisome time back and reported that there is total compliance by the industries. It was also reported by CPCB that Patancheru and Jeedimetla CETPs are working efficiently and meeting all the discharge standards and there is no adverse impact on MusiRiver or STPs operated by HMWWSB.

Does it mean the root cause is due to something else?  This is the right time for any institute or a scientific body or environmental experts to investigate scientifically and conclude whether the earlier thoughts and opinions were correct or wrong and how the pollution problem can be mitigated post lockdown. Such type of study should have been proactively instituted by the government authorities making use of a lockdown scenario which may never happen again. The drug industry and BDMA would be ready to finance the study in order to prove that they are not sinners. BDMA requests TSPCB to join this study for the benefit of society and everyone.

Already, Narayan Reddy, President Emeritus, BDMA had come forward to sponsor the technical investigation study to find out the root cause of Husainsagar lake pollution for the benefit of society and regulatory authority.

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