The national lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 has thrown up something to smile about.
The water quality of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh has improved considerably in cities like Varanasi and Kanpur.
Dr P.K. Mishra, Professor at Chemical Engineering & Technology, IIT-BHU, Varanasi, said that there has been 40-50 per cent improvement in quality of water in the Ganga.
This is primarily because factories along the river bank that discharged effluents into the Ganga have been shut due to the lockdown and this has naturally improved the water quality.
Kalika Singh, regional officer of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) in Varanasi said: "The dissolved oxygen level upstream in river Ganga is 8.9 mg per litre while downstream, the dissolved oxygen level is 8.3 mg per litre. This clearly shows that water quality has improved significantly, and it is good for bathing. Healthy water should have a dissolved oxygen level of at least 7 mg/litre."
Singh said that during the lockdown period, the air quality in Varanasi had also improved.
"The roads in Varanasi are completely deserted because people are inside their houses and all vehicles are off the roads. Those engaged in essential services can only be seen in the city with their vehicles. Due to this, the air quality has improved in the city," he said.
The Ganga enters Uttar Pradesh in Bijnor district and passes through major districts such as Meerut, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Kanpur, Allahabad, and Varanasi.
In Kanpur too, the Ganga waters are cleaner.
A priest at the famous Parmat temple in Kanpur, said: "The major cause of water pollution in Kanpur is the toxic industrial waste which is discharged into the river. Since all the factories are closed due to the lockdown, the Ganga river has become cleaner. The priests at the temple earlier used to refrain from taking a holy dip because the water was highly contaminated. However, since the past week, we are bathing in the river."
The Sisamau drain which used to discharged millions of litres of dirty water into the river was completely tapped last year under the Namami Gange project. This has also brought down the water pollution but the improvement being witnessed at present is unprecedented.
The lockdown has done what other government projects could not do for the Ganga.