The slow death of a river

See the impact of pollution on the Kshipra in Madhya Pradesh through the eyes of the residents, many of whom depend on the river for their livelihoods.
Prayers on the bank of the Kshipra
Prayers on the bank of the Kshipra

The Kshipra is considered a sacred river in Madhya Pradesh's Malwa region. In the last few decades, this perennial river has also lost its glory like many other rivers in India. The sewage of Ujjain city and the industrial waste around Dewas town find their way into the Kshipra. Its waters which once quenched the city's thirst, aren't even fit for bathing any longer, but this doesn't stop people. After all, it has a religious significance!

Due to excessive economic activities in and around the Kshipra river bed the river flow has been severely affected. Industries, housing colonies and other economic activities have encroached the river bed. Over-exploitation of the river water and untreated waste from Ujjain, Dewas and Indore cities have not only affected the quality of the river water but has aggravated water crises in the region. 

See the impact of this pollution through the eyes of residents, many of whom depend on the river for their livelihoods.

"Earlier we used to get 24x7 fresh drinking water from the Kshipra on the ghats (banks) but for the last three decades we are struggling to get water from the Gambhir river even from the Municipal corporation," says Rajju Bhairav, a 57 year-old barber working on the bank of Kshipra in Ramghat, Ujjain.

 

From 1990 onwards, the Ujjain Municipal Corporation (UMC) slowly stopped lifting water from the Kshipra due to increasing pollution levels. In 1992, UMC switched over to the Gambhir dam on the Gambhir river, a tributary of the Kshipra, located 18kms from Ujjain to cater to the drinking water need of the city.

 

There are more than 150 shops on the banks of the Kshipra that sell puja materials.

 

"Our community has lost revenue from fishing due to pollution in the Kshipra," says Kailash Khatri, a 47-year-old fisherman. He is the only person from his community who owns a pond in Ujjain and is running his fishing business.There were 50 families who were entirely dependent on the river for their livelihood earlier.

 

"The laundry business in Ujjain is severely affected due to pollution in the Kshipra. Customers are not satisfied if we wash their clothes in this polluted water. More than 100 families are dependent on this business for their livelihood in Ujjain", says Sanjay Malviya, a laundry owner at Ramghat, Ujjain.

 

"People have been throwing waste in the river and around its bank without understanding that they are polluting it. There is no proper system to address waste disposal in Ujjain, and most of the city waste is polluting the water", says Santosh Sonwani, a sweeper at Ramghat, Ujjain.

 

The domestic sewage network of Ujjain city is linked to the sewage pond on Badnagar road, which then meets the Kshipra. More than 90 percent of the sewage comes from local sources. This sewage pond treats less than 50 percent of the total sewage generated by Ujjain city. Therefore, most of the untreated sewage openly flows into the Kshipra.

 

A water pipeline on the Kshipra near Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.

View more photos of the Kshipra: the dying river of Madhya Pradesh.

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