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Preliminary tests confirm worst fears

Based on findings, PCBA says water of the mighty river might be 'poisonous'

GUWAHATI, Dec 7: Even as fears are being expressed in many quarters over the water quality of the Brahmaputra ever since its texture underwent a change almost two weeks back, preliminary tests conducted on water samples of the river have apparently confirmed the worst fears.
For, if the Pollution Control Board, Assam’s (PCBA) preliminary tests are to be believed, water of the Brahmaputra is not fit for human consumption, if not “poisonous”, under the present circumstances. Of course, further detailed investigation is required to come to such a formal conclusion.
PCBA Member Secretary BK Borua told The Sentinel that 14 water samples have been collected from different locations of the river. “And as per the preliminary tests, Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU) in the water has been found to be 175, whereas the permissible range is 10 to 12 NTU. Under the circumstances, it may be poisonous to consume the water,” he warned.
Borua, however, hastened to add that further investigation will be required to formally reach such a conclusion.
Terming the water quality as a cause of concern, the PCBA Member Secretary further added that a final report of analysis of the water samples will only be known by Friday evening. “We will share the final report with the Union Ministry of Environment & Forest, State government and Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of the districts concerned. They will take a final call on the matter,” he explained.
When asked the reasons for the water becoming highly muddy suddenly, Borua said it will be difficult to attribute any reason downstream with properly knowing the cause and studying it in the upstream.
However, when contacted by this reporter, State Public Health Engineer (PHE) Minister Rihon Daimary said preliminary tests conducted on water samples at the PHE’s own laboratory in Betkuchi area of the city have indicated that NTU levels are within permissible limits.
He refused to comment on the PCBA’s preliminary findings as he had not seen them.
But the Minister admitted that problems are being faced in filtering the water of the Brahmaputra due to high turbidity. “More tests will be required to reach a definite conclusion on the river’s water quality. This is the reason why the samples have been sent to IIT Guwahati for more in depth investigation,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Kamrup (Metro) DC M Angamuthu, in an order issued on Thursday, has instructed Guwahati Municipal Corporation, PHE department and Assam Urban Water Supply & Sewerage Board to supply drinking water to the residents of the State Capital from the Brahmaputra only after proper treatment and ensure that the residents receive only clean purified water.
The DC also directed PCBA, Central Water Commission and Central Pollution Control Board to examine the quality of the water and take necessary measures to mitigate the issue at the earliest.
Interestingly, the DC’s instruction came after the departments concerned have already initiated the process of collecting water samples from the river and conducting necessary tests on them.