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Eighty percent of Indian sewage 'flow untreated into rivers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A new report says that 80 percent of the human sewage in India is thrown directly into the nation's rivers. This in turn pollutes the country's main sources of drinking water. Coupled with the weak or non-existent enforcement of environmental laws, rapid urban development and a lack of awareness about the dangers of sewage are all chief factors behind that nation's water pollution problem.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Indian cities produce nearly 40,000 million liters of sewage every day. Of that massive amount, barely 20 percent of it is treated, according to the report "Excreta Does Matter."

The new report released by the Center for Science and Environment says that the "untreated waste dumped into rivers seeps into groundwater, thereby creating a ticking health bomb in India."

"Untreated sewage is killing Indian rivers," the report states.

Only 160 out of nearly 8,000 towns had both sewerage systems and a sewage treatment plant, a 2011 survey by the Central Pollution Control Board revealed.

In addition, scientists who worked on the CSE report found that thousands of small factories were dumping untreated sewage into rivers and toxic waste was being mixed with fresh water.

Tests found that almost all of India has nitrate levels higher than the prescribed levels -- a result of sewage leaching into groundwater supplies.

Environmentalists blamed the government for failing to regulate the use of water, with the country's annual consumption expected almost to double by 2050.

The majority of the government-owned sewage treatment plants remain closed most of the time due to improper design or poor maintenance or lack of reliable electricity supply to operate the plants, together with absentee employees and poor management. The wastewater generated in these areas normally percolates in the soil or evaporates. The uncollected wastes accumulate in the urban areas cause unhygienic conditions and release pollutants that leach to surface and groundwater.

A 1992 World Health Organization study is claimed to have reported that out of India's 3,119 towns and cities, just 209 have partial sewage treatment facilities, and only 8 have full wastewater treatment facilities.[2] Downstream, the untreated water is used for drinking, bathing, and washing. A 1995 report claimed 114 Indian cities were dumping untreated sewage and partially cremated bodies directly into the Ganges River. Open defecation is widespread even in urban areas of India. This situation is typical of India as well as other developing countries.

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