UP elections: Effluents from the agro-park dumped into the Naad river causing illness in villagers of poll-bound Varanasi

From cattle dying after drinking water from the polluted river to an increased incidence of diseases, the daily lives of almost 5,000 rural residents are impacted by the dumping of industrial effluents from Varanasi's agro-park. A ground report.

Ankit Kumar SinghAnkit Kumar Singh   5 March 2022 4:55 PM GMT

UP elections: Effluents from the agro-park dumped into the Naad river causing illness in villagers of poll-bound Varanasi

Kalika Singh, the area officer of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, informed Gaon Connection that the department is fully aware of the industrial effluents being dumped into the Naad river. All photos by Ankit Kumar Singh

Jokhu Ram Prajapati, a resident of Varanasi's Bind village, is bedridden. "His fever never goes, he's bedridden for more than a year now. I have lost all my savings in his treatment and we are under heavy debt," 70-year-old Prajapti's wife Prema Devi told Gaon Connection.

She holds Naad river, which flows a few metres away from her house, responsible for her husband's ailment. He is fed with a pipe fixed into his mouth. "He is unable to recover from the weakness caused by malaria. Our village is full of mosquitoes and several villagers are suffering," she added.

Pointing towards the dark waters of the river, Prema Devi said: "Its water is poison for both the animals as well as the humans. When it's windy, the stench emanating from the river is so strong that it's hell to sit even inside our houses.

On February 28 Gaon Connection watched as industrial effluents from the 'Agro Park' emptied into the river. Varanasi district's Agro Park is a cluster of industrial units, formally known as Karkhiyaon Industrial Area, spread across 169 hectares with mainly food processing industries. The agro-park is merely a couple of kilometres away from Bind village.

The Naad is a small tributary of the Varuna river, originating in the Madiyanhu tehsil of Jaunpur. It joins Varuna in Varanasi, and eventually flows down to meet the Ganges. Villagers complain that the rising pollution in Naad river has caused a spike in the caseload of diseases in the last ten years.

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According to Devnath Prajapati, former gram pradhan (village head) of Bind, almost a dozen villages that fall along the flow of the river are impacted by the pollution.

"The industries began operating here after 2001. Before 2002, the water in the river was so clean that people used to drink it. But today, animals die after drinking from it. If a dog bathes in it, it loses its fur," Prajapati, who has been the village head from 2002-2015, told Gaon Connection.

"The government should think about a solution and consider the health issues faced by the villagers here," said Prema Devi.

Just three kilometres upstream of Bind village lies Asbaranpur in Jaunpur district. Villagers in Asbaranpur consider themselves lucky as the river water in their village is of potable quality. But a few miles downstream, near Bind, it is unrecognisable and filthy.

"We use the river's water to irrigate our fields and for our cattle. The water in our stretch of the river is clean but it gets toxic in Varanasi," Raj Kumar, a resident of Asbaranpur, told Gaon Connection.

Host of diseases

Rangnath Dubey is a paediatrician who works at the Shri Shiv Prasad Gupta District Hospital in Varanasi's Kabirchaura area and also runs his private clinic at the Binda village for the last 30 years.

As someone who has been monitoring the healthcare in the village for three decades, Dubey is appalled by the rise in the incidence of water-borne diseases in the village which has a population of almost 5,000.

Prema Devi holds Naad river, which flows a few metres away from her house, responsible for her husband's ailment.


"In the last 10 years, water-borne diseases like jaundice, typhoid and viral intestinal fevers have skyrocketed in the village. Also, there is a high incidence of skin allergies and respiratory problems which are all caused due to the pollution," the doctor explained. "The old people and the children are the most vulnerable and frequently fall sick due to low immunity," he added.

The child-specialist also told Gaon Connection that the rise in water-borne infections forced him to get the river's water tested.

According to Devnath Prajapati, former gram pradhan (village head) of Bind, almost a dozen villages that fall along the flow of the river are impacted by the pollution.


"The test showed a high presence of heavy metals like lead and mercury in the water. These contaminants are severely harmful for human health. Also, the factories in the agro park emit pollutants which hamper the air quality in the area. It leads to respiratory ailments," he said.

"The air is so polluted that if you keep an uncovered bucket of water in the open, you will find a layer of soot floating on the surface in a few hours," the doctor added.

'Committee formed to investigate wrongdoing'

Kalika Singh, the area officer of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, informed Gaon Connection that the department is fully aware of the industrial effluents being dumped into the Naad river.

"Action has been taken against the industries in the past. These industries manufacture snacks, bread, biscuits, edible oils and cattle feed. Recently, some three-four months ago we received a complaint regarding the polluted water being dumped into the river and action was taken," he said.

"There are effluent treatment plants installed in these industries but they are not used efficiently, because of which the waste sometimes gets dumped into the river," the official informed Gaon Connection. "To address this issue, the district administration has formed an investigation committee which inspected these industries and held several meetings with the private companies," he said.

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Singh also stated that those found guilty of violating the rules were held accountable and action was taken against them.

"In accordance with The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, notices have been issued against the defaulting companies. Several companies have taken measures to fix their plants and if they are again found dumping waste into the river, they will be liable for a shut down," the pollution control board official added.

But villagers have little hope from the authorities. Prajapati, said that despite the formation of these committees nothing changed on the ground.

"Our cattle frequently die due to the toxic river water. Officials come, committees get formed but the water continues to make people sick," he said.

Read this report in Hindi

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