WATER QUALITY OF THE RIVER GANGA DURING MASS RITUALISTIC BATHING ON ARDH KUMBH IN PRAYAGRAJ, INDIAAJIT KUMAR VIDYARTHI, VIVEK RANA, GARIMA DUBLISH AND MRINAL KANTI BISWAS
Ardh Kumbh Mela (here after mentioned as Kumbh Mela), a religious Hindu festival, was celebrated in India from January to March 2019 which comprises ritualistic mass bathing at the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati in Prayagraj in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. The water quality of the river Ganga at Prayagraj was assessed with respect to bathing water standards. The properties (pH, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, and fecal coliform) of river water were evaluated during, before and after six auspicious bathing occasions at three locations: (i) Sangam; (ii) Kuresar Ghat, upstream of Sangam; and (iii) Deeha Ghat, downstream of Sangam. This study revealed that the river water was found non-complying on some bathing occasions with respect to pH, BOD, and FC. However, the DO content of the river was meeting the stipulated bathing standards at all monitoring locations on all bathing occasions. The high DO content in the river may be attributed to the self-cleansing properties (high photosynthetic activity, low rate of respiration, and low organic degradation) of the river Ganga. However, the impact of bathing on the BOD level of the river was observed as the BOD was higher during morning in comparison to evening on many bathing occasions. The study concluded that the competent authorities must take necessary measures to ensure the river water quality during mass bathing events such as Kumbh Mela.