In India, a study by researchers from Banaras Hindu University showed high levels of antibiotic contamination of the Ganga.
A study by researchers at University of York highlights the rising antibiotic contamination of rivers. The research was carried out in 72 countries, to monitor the presence of 14 commonly used antibiotics, and found the presence of antibiotics at large levels in 65% of the sites. Ciprofloxacin, used for treating multiple infections, exceeded safe levels most frequently. The study highlights that, of 111 sites that had unsafe contamination, most were in Asia and Africa.
In India, a study by researchers from Banaras Hindu University showed high levels of antibiotic contamination of the Ganga. In a country that faces a high anti-microbial resistance (AMR) risk because of rampant antibiotic abuse, such contamination points at systemic deficiencies in treating waste-water and solid waste, thereby, revealing a failure of sanitation and waste disposal policies. In the case of the Ganga, for instance, faecal bacteria levels were found to be above the acceptable cap at 48 out of 61 monitoring stations—this, after the government claimed that 4,465 villages along the Ganga were now open-defecation free. Against a 3,730 million litres/day target for development of sewage treatment capacity—the volume of sewage dumped in to the Ganga—the existing capacity is of just 2,350 MLD. Also, an estimated 11,729 tonnes per day of municipal solid waste is generated by the 97 towns along the river, while the existing processing capacity is of just 3,786 tonnes, and a further capacity of just 3,058 tonnes has been approved so far. Against the nearly 5,000 km of sewage network that is targeted to be developed in cities abutting the Ganga, just over 2,600 km exists. All this means, even as India celebrates the Swachh Bharat Mission’s incredible toilet-coverage success, our rivers are falling prey to inadequate sewage coverage and waste processing, leading to antibiotic contamination.