Telangana: Polluted Musi River Puts Lives at Stake
M D Jahangir
ONCE considered a lifeline, the Musi River in Telangana has now turned into a stream of toxic liquids and effluents. Starting in the Anantagiri hills in Vikarabad district, the Musi joins the Krishna River in Vadavalli in Nalgonda district. It fulfils the drinking water and irrigation needs of the people of Hyderabad, Rangareddy, and the united Nalgonda districts. Historically linked with the lives of the people of these districts, the river’s water was pristine clear even 40 years ago. But now, the water is toxic. Who is responsible for this? What is the responsibility of those in power? We have to seek answers from those in power before it’s too late and the river runs dry, putting the lives of millions of people at stake.
Hundreds of industries and pharmaceutical companies release their effluents into the river daily. Companies that have come up on the banks of the Musi in the industrial areas of Patancheru, Jeedimetla and Nacharam are freely releasing industrial waste into the river. Similarly, civic waste is dumped in the Musi. In the city, the river has disappeared and become a dumping yard. Two years back, only 350 million litres of polluted discharge were going into the Musi. Now, it has gradually increased to 1,625 million litres. Scientists in their analysis found 48 types of active remnants of pharmaceuticals. Most of it is antibiotics. They said water in areas up to 70 kms is contaminated.
A Swiss organisation conducted water tests in 258 rivers in 140 countries under a project named “pharmaceutical pollution in world rivers”. The Musi is in the 22nd place in the dangerous rivers of the world, as published in The Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, a journal. According to studies, this contaminated water will damage the health of people, and causes many kinds of cancer, kidney diseases, skin diseases, abortions, arthritis, stomach pain, throat pain, and inflict invaluable loss and damage.
LIVES DEPENDENT ON MUSI
Even though their health is being affected, the people of Yadadri and Bhongiri, for want of an alternative, built dams on the Musi for water for irrigation. More than 100 villages are dependent on its water for cultivation, dairy and fisheries. Multiple studies have revealed toxic residue in crops and fish. In this situation, the central and state governments are taking just token actions. In the name of purification, only a few water treatment plants have been set up in Hyderabad. Of the 1,500 million litres of human waste and other impurities that are going into the river daily, only 750 million litres are being treated. The pollution control board is in a deep slumber and is not taking any action against industries that are polluting the river and consequently damaging the people’s health. There is no surveillance on the Musi. There are no water treatment plants in Yadadri and Bhongiri districts. The central government is indifferent. Under schemes such as the National River Control Plan and Jal Shakti Abhiyan, no money is allotted for the Musi River’s purification. Proposals were sent for Rs 8,000 crore by the Telangana Musi Front, but even after years funds are not granted and the centre is only dragging its feet. When thousands of crores of rupees are being allotted for cleaning the Ganga, why is there discrimination when it comes to the Musi? BJP MPs have to answer to the people of Telangana.
In Yadadri and Bhongiri districts, big district-wide agitations took place under the aegis of the CPI(M) to get water from the Krishna and the Godavari as an alternative. Many seminars and discussions were organised. A bus jatha was organised by the Party from August 21-28 to protect the people from the pollution of the Musi. CPI(M) state secretary Thammineni Veerabhadram inaugurated the jatha and raised the demand to allocate Rs 8,000 crore from the NRCP (National River Control Plan) funds. CPI(M) Central Committee member Cherupally Sitharamulu and other district leaders participated in this programme. After the completion of the bus jatha, a signature campaign was organised in the affected areas. Protest programmes were held at mandal offices and villages in the first week of September. Thousands of people were made aware through Poru Yatra in 10 mandals. Meetings were held and processions were taken out in municipalities and villages to press the government for meaningful action for the purification of the Musi.