Coliform will count

Environment ministry admits bacteria is major river pollutant

MAJOR rivers in India have high bacterial contamination, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (moef) said in a press release dated December 24, 2008. Yamuna and Ganga top the list of most polluted rivers (see graph below).

Bacterial contamination in water is indicated by the presence of coliform bacteria that find their way into rivers mostly through untreated sewage and cause waterborne diseases.

The moef admission on bacterial contamination in rivers seems to indicate a major shift in the way water quality is assessed.Its acceptance that coliform presence is an important parameter for determining water pollution levels is likely to change the pollution profiles of the 282 rivers monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb).
Senior officials at the National River Conservation Directorate admitted that coliform is an important indicator of pollution.