Saryu, Ganga & Yamuna| Immersion Aftermath

[ This is what we do not see. Holy River is suffering. ]

— Shabab Khan

The verdict of Allahabad High Court forced the Hindu Masses to dispense the Durga Idol in any one of the two ponds dug out by Varanasi administration on the bank of Ganga and filled with gallons of gange jal in the pit.

Even after a huge protest in which more than 22 hundred thousands Hindus took part in order to press administration for granting permission, letting them immerse Durga idols into Ganga. But, administration was firmly determine as chief minister Uttar Pradesh Mr. Akhilesh Yadav must have studied the toxicology reports High Court passed order on the basis of. It will shock you too.

For our relief, Hindus have given their nod to settle for pits filled with Ganga Water.

1. Saryu River:

This River flows through the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The Sarayu forms at the confluence of the  Karnali (or Ghaghara) and Mahakali (or Sharda) in Bahraich  District[22].

The immersion of idols of Lord Ganesh and Durga during Ganesh Ustav and Navratris festivals is a major source of contamination  and sedimentation to the river. The festivals of Ganesha  Chaturthi and Durga Puja  witness a massive community involvement. To match the contemporary ethos, new  materials are being used  for modernising the representation  of these idols without much thought being given to the issue  of toxicity and its impact on the  environment[23].

Most  of  freshwater  bodies  all  over  the  world  are  becoming  polluted,  thus  decreasing  the portability  of  the  water.  An  investigation  was  carried  out  to  find  out  the  effects  of  immersion of  idols  on  water  quality  of  the  river  by  collecting  and  analysing  the  water  samples  from  the immersion  site  of  the  river. The  sampling  was  done  one  week  before  the  immersion,  on the day of immersion and  after ten days of the event [26].

After  analysing  the  river  water samples, it  was  found  that  before  the  immersion  of  idols  the  dissolved  oxygen  level  was 15mg/l which decreased  during immersion (10mg/l) and  after the immersion activity, D.O  was 11mg/l. BOD was observed  (9mg/l) before immersion,  maximum during (14mg/l)  immersion and after (11mg/l) the immersion activity. The  average  values of DO and BOD indicate the presence of organic pollution sources [23].

Earlier  studies  reported  the  high  values  between  23.0-56.4  mg/l  and  indicated  the  high organic  pollution  in  river  [28].  The  hardness  of  water  is  not  a  pollution  parameter  but indicates  water  quality.  The  BIS  recommend  the  limit  of  total  hardness  for  drinking  water purpose  to  be  300mg/l  and WHO has set 100  mg/l. Hardness  was  reported  between 94.0  and 167.3mg/l in  Hanuman Taal, Jabalpur[29]. The  results of total hardness were  35mg/l  (before immersion),  41  mg/l  (during  immersion)  and  50  mg/l  (after  immersion).

Turbidity  was recorded  30  NTU,  60  NTU  and  55  NTU  during  the  three  stages  of  the  activity  respectively [23]. The  water  column  is  disturbed  completely  during  idol  immersion  causing  higher turbidity[3]. Though magnesium  is  non-poisonous, it increases  the  hardness of water.

The concentration  of  Calcium,  Magnesium,  and  Cadmium  in  the  river  water  was  38.14  mg/l,  8.78 mg/l,  0.003  mg/l  before  the  immersion  which  increased  to  51.57mg/l,  11.58  mg/l,  0.012  mg/l during  the  immersion  and  was  60.93  mg/l,  15.75  mg/l,  0.03  after  the  immersion  respectively. Manganese,  Lead,  Iron,  Mercury  were  found  0.091  mg/l  ,  0.192  mg/l,0.123  mg/l,  0.575  mg/l before  the  immersion  and  0.182  mg/l,  0.219  mg/l,  0.311  mg/l,  0.617  during  immersion  and 0.299 mg/l, 0.411 mg/l, 0.521 mg/l, 0.811 after the  immersion  [23].

So,  the  findings  of  the  study  revealed  that  the  water quality  degraded  after  the immersion  of  idols  as  some  of  the  parameters  were  above  the  permissible  limit  and  also reveals  a  clear  picture  of  the  status  of  water  quality  at  different  stages. The higher  concentration of some  parameters is  probably  due  to heavy  pollution  load due  to the  immersions,  resulting  in  the  deterioration  of  the  natural  water  body.  Therefore,  it  is suggested  that  the  authorities  should  conduct  environmental  awareness  programmes, particularly  before  the  festival  to  educate  the  public of the  city  and  make  them aware of the harmful  environmental effects of  immersion of idols. By doing  that pollution can be  reduce[23].


The Ganges or Ganga is a 2525 km. long trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh that empties into the Bay of Bengal and it is the third largest river by discharge [38].

The Ganges was ranked as the fifth most polluted river of the world in 2007. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin [39].

The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river and for the proper management of water pollution[40,41].

After worshipped, a huge number of Jagadhatri idols are immersed every year in the holy river Ganga at Ranighat, Chander Nagore, West Bengal.

A study highlighted the water quality status in Ganga river during Jagadhatri festival. The study mainly emphasized on the changes of water quality parameters during pre-immersion, immersion and post-immersion periods of idols into the river Ganga. After idol immersion the temperature of river water was 33.0°C recorded during pre-immersion period, 30.4 during immersion and 31.2 °C in post immersion periods.

After idol immersion, pH ranges between 7.26 (pre-immersion) to 7.91 (during immersion) and after immersion pH was 7.65 [42]. From the study, Transparency and Conductivity was found 32.90cm and 210.30 μS/cm respectively before immersion. During immersion and after immersion Transparency and Conductivity was 14.57cm, 283.96 μS/cm and 21.30cm, 265.48 μS/cm respectively. DO, BOD, COD, Total alkalinity, Chloride, Total hardness, Phosphate were found 5.67 mg/l, 2.25 mg/l, 11.10 mg/l, 95.67 mg/l, 14.77 mg/l, 116.33 mg/l, 0.38 mg/l respectively before the immersion and 8mg/l, 6.6mg/l, 18.9mg/l, 124mg/l, 174mg/l, 43.7mg/l and 3.8mg/l after immersion of paint clad POP structure in river.

The chemical compound these idols immerse with are lethal for Ganges Dolphins, Tortoises and Prawns, human being are also suffering from Mercury, Cadmium, Varnish as some of its quantity manage to penetrate all the outer earth’s layer and settle down in water table.


The Yamuna, sometimes called Jamuna, is the largest tributary river of the Ganges (Ganga) in northern India [47]. Total length of the River Yamuna from its origin near Yamunotri Glacier at a height of 6,387 metres to its confluence with Ganga River at Allahabad is 1376 kilometre [48].

The total basin area of the river is 366223 km2 which covers part of geographical area in the states of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & NCT – Delhi[49]. The 22km stretch in Delhi, once described as the life line of the city, today has become one of the dirtiest rivers in the country [50]. River Yamuna, the main source of water supply to national capital-Delhi, plays a crucial role in its growth[51].

Idol immersion is one cause of water pollution in the river Yamuna as it is widely worshipped by devotees in India. The immersion of idol of Lord Durga during Navratris festival is a major source of contamination and sedimentation to the lake water. During the immersion ceremony, puja articles such as polythene bags, foam cutouts, flowers, food offerings, decorations, metal polish, plastic sheets, cosmetic items, all of which are highly polluting, are also thrown into the water. A study was carried out for assessment of water quality of River Yamuna after idol immersion. The sampling was done in three phases; pre idol immersion sampling, during idol immersion and post immersion sampling.

The samples were collected from 13 different locations such as Thokar No. 8, Thokar No. 12, Ram Ghat u/s of Wazirabad, Sonia Vihar U/S of Wazirabad, D/S of Wazirabad, Garhi Mandoo, Majnu Ka Tila, Khudesia Ghat, Geeta Colony, Haathi Ghat, Nizamuddin , Kalindi kunj and Okhla Barrage of the Yamuna along the Delhi stretch, primary sites for practicing idol immersion.

The composed data was analyzed for the year 2011, to understand deterioration in the water quality of the river due to idol immersion practices. From the analysis, it was found that among from all sampling station, minimum concentration of some chemical parameters such as pH, BOD, COD, Total Suspended Solids (TSS) were 6.9, 1.4mg/l, 16mg/l, 294mg/l respectively before the immersion and during immersion 7.3, 4.0 mg/l, 32 mg/l, 494 mg/l respectively and after immersion 7.3, 3.3 mg/l, 28 mg/l, 430 mg/l respectively.

Also it was found that among from all sampling station, maximum concentration (Figure 13) of some chemical parameters such as pH, BOD, COD, Total Suspended Solids (TSS) were 7.8, 35 mg/l, 124 mg/l, 1366 mg/l respectively before the immersion and during immersion 7.9, 55.0 mg/l, 188 mg/l, 1264 mg/l and after immersion of idols all chemical parameters were becomes 7.9, 38.0 mg/l, 137mg/l.

…shabab khan
(Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist, Engineer and Social Activist Against Animal …

Reference & Credit:
23] Shahenshah, Bhat, M.M., Andrabi, A. Z. S, Shukla, S. 2011. Effect of Idol Immersions on some Water Quality Parameters of Saryu River. European Journal of Experimental Biology, 1(3), 97-100. [24] Vyas A., Bajpai A., Verma N. Environ. Monit. Assess. 145 (2008) 437-443. [25] Peter W.P., William A.W., Aquaculture 172 (1999) 275-280. [26] APHA, Standard methods for the examination of water and waste water. 21st edition. American Public Health Association DC, USA, 2005. [27] ICMR, Manual of standards of quality for drinking water supplies. Special report series No.44, 2nd edition, 1975. [28] Hostetti B.B., Kul Karni A.R., Patil H.S., India Journal Environmental Health 36(2) (1994) 124-127. [29] Dhamaji S.K., Jain Y., Pollution Research 14(3) (1995) 341-346. [30] Bhat M.M., Yazdani T., Narain K., Yunus M., Shukla R.N. 2009. Journal of Wetlands Ecology, 2, 67-73. [31] Sen I., Shandil A., Shrivastava V.S., Adv. Appl. Sci. Res. 2(2) (2011) 161-166. [32] Kolar River (Maharashtra). Accessed on 03/06/2014, accessed from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Kolar_River(Maharashtra). [33] Shukla S.S. 2004. Effect of public awareness campaign in mitigating impact of religious activities on Bhopal lakes, Abstract in image of water in religion, myths, literature, Switzerland, Global Biodiversity Forum, 17(2). [34] Gupta A.K., Mishra K., Pramod Kumar, Singh C.S. and Srivastava S. 2011. Impact of religious activities on the water characteristics of prominent ponds at Varanasi (UP) India, Plant Archives, 11(1), 297-300.

About Shabab Khan

A Journalist, Philanthropist; Author of 'The Magician', 'Go!', 'Brutal'. Being a passionate writer, I am into Journalism and writing columns, news stories, articles for top media house. Twitter: @khantastix
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