Context: The strict enforcement of 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be a boon for the Cauvery and other rivers in the old Mysuru region as the prohibition of industrial and religious activities has helped in reducing pollution level in the rivers.

More about the news:

  • According to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), the Cauvery and tributaries like Kabini, Hemavati, Shimsha, and Lakshmana Tirtha are regaining their decades-old status in terms of water quality.
  • Also the untreated sewage from residential areas, pollutants from industries, religious waste material from pilgrims, and construction debris had been polluting the rivers.
  • These rivers were flowing with hazardous elements such as lead, fluoride, faecal coliform, and some suspended solids in highly dangerous quantities. 
  • It is evident that the lockdown has significantly brought down the pollution level in rivers, said sources in KSPCB.
  • However, the board will test the water samples at the regional laboratory in Mysuru under the national programme Monitoring of Indian National Aquatic Resources and Global Environmental Monitoring Scheme.

Water Pollution

  • Water pollution can be defined as the contamination of water bodies, caused when water bodies such as rivers, lakes, oceans, groundwater, and aquifers get contaminated with industrial and agricultural effluents.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in association with State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committees(PPCs) is monitoring the quality of water bodies at 2500 locations across the country under National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWQMP).
  • NWQMP indicates that organic pollution is the predominant cause of water pollution. 
  • Based on the magnitude of organic pollution, CPCB in 2008 identified 150 polluted river stretches which increased to 302 in 2015. 
  • The river stretches are polluted mainly due to discharge of untreated / partially treated sewage and discharge of industrial wastewater. 
  • Similar observations were made by WHO in its reports on water pollution.

The steps taken by the Government to address the issues of water pollution:

  1. Preparation of action plan for sewage management and restoration of water quality in aquatic resources by State Governments.
  2. Installation of Online Effluent Monitoring System to check the discharge of effluent directly into the rivers and water bodies.
  3. Setting up a monitoring network for assessment of water quality.
  4. Action to comply with effluent standards is taken by SPCBs / PCCs to improve the water quality of the rivers.
  5. Financial assistance for installation of Common Effluent Treatment Plants for clusters of Small Scale Industrial units.
  6. Issuance of directions for implementation of Zero Liquid Discharge.
  7. Issuance of directions under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to industries and under  Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  8. Implementation of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) to undertake various conservation activities including interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater, pollution abatement, lake beautification, biodiversity conservation, education and awareness creation, community participation etc.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) 

  • The CPCB of India established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (and later entrusted with functions and responsibilities under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981) is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • It coordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them.


Cauvery River


Designated as

  • Dakshina Ganga or the Ganga of the South.


  • It rises at an elevation of 1,341 m at Talakaveri on the Brahmagiri range near Cherangala village of Kodagu (Coorg) district of Karnataka.
  • The total length of the river from origin to outfall is 800 km.


  • The Cauvery basin extends over states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry draining an area of 81 thousand



  • It is bounded by the Western Ghats on the west, by the Eastern Ghats on the east and the south and by the ridges separating it from Krishna basin and Pennar basin on the north.
  • The Nilgiris divide the basin into two natural and political regions i.e., Karnataka plateau in the North and the Tamil Nadu plateau in the South.


Tributaries of the Cauvery River

  • Left Bank: the Harangi, the Hemavati, the Shimsha and the Arkavati.
  • Right Bank: Lakshmantirtha, the Kabbani, the Suvarnavathi, the Bhavani, the Noyil and the Amaravati joins from right.
  • The river descends from the South Karnataka Plateau to the Tamil Nadu Plains through the Shivasamudram waterfalls (101 m high).