Manipur's Nambul River pollution level drops, but in CPCB most polluted list still

Nambul river that flows through the heart of capital city Imphal is yet to fulfil the criteria to be removed from the list of the most polluted rivers of India which was declared in 2018 by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

ByPhurailatpam Keny Devi

Updated 5 Jan 2022, 3:23 pm

Nambul River (PHOTO: Lelen Vaiphei_IFP)
Nambul River (PHOTO: Lelen Vaiphei_IFP)


The launch of Rejuvenation and Conservation of Nambul River in the year 2019 has helped to reduce the pollution level of the river to some extent. However, it appears that it is yet to fulfil the criteria to be removed from the list of the most polluted rivers of India which was declared in 2018 by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The CPCB had identified 351 rivers of India as highly polluted under five different priority basis wherein, nine rivers of Manipur were listed viz. Nambul River, Imphal River, Khuga River, Khujairok River, Lokchao River, Manipur River, Thoubal River, Iril River and Wangjing River. Among these nine rivers, Nambul River was identified among priority II of polluted rivers in India.

As per the CPCB guidelines, if a river exceeds biochemical oxygen demand (BOD, an indicator of water pollution level. the higher the BOD, higher is the pollution level) from level of 6 mg/l in all monitoring locations on all occasions, it is regarded as priority II of polluted rivers and any river that comes under this category needs the state's action plan for treatment of the river.

In line with it, the Manipur state government had launched the Rejuvenation and Conservation of Nambul River with an objective to save this dying river, which flows through the heart of Imphal City and falls into Loktak Lake, by treating urban waste present in the water using the latest available technology. As an impact of the project, according to a report received from the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, which is a nodal office of the project, BOD level is below 6 mg/l but in the lean season, it goes beyond 7 to 9 mg/l.

Also Read: Flow freely, dear Nambul

Discharging of solid waste material and sewage from household, shops etc. are the major contributing factors of Nambul River falling under the category of most polluted rivers whereas it was once socially and economically significant to the people of state. On top of this, drying up of streams and catchment areas due to change of rainfall pattern induced by climate change are also undeniable reasons to disturb the free flow of this river, which was perennial at one point of time.

In an interaction with T Brajakumar Singh, Joint Director, Environment and Climate Change, he said that the main factor polluting Nambul River is dumping of garbage and inletting of sewage from houses, hotels, shops etc. around the periphery of the river.


He said that Nambul River is formed by the confluence of three streams with stretches of 28 km, 22 km and 18 km from Kangchup hill range. The river begins from Iroishemba area and falls into the Loktak Lake, a pride of state. In this course of around 27 Km from Iroishemba to Toubul under Bishnupur from where Nambul River finally discharge into Loktak Lake, stretches from Iroishemba to Heirangoithong, with a distance of 9.14 Km, is the most polluted area. However, the place that lies beyond between these stretches are better and meet the criteria of potable drinking water.

Also Read: Can Manipur save its dying Nambul River?

And between the courses of Iroishemba to Heirangoithong, Hump Bridge to Keishamthong is enlisted as the most polluted area and is described as a red zone, the environmentalist added.

He further said that through the project of the Rejuvenation and Conservation of Nambul River, dumping of garbage at the river bank has been largely reduced with the help of some conventional methods such as construction of net fencing, garden, and lighting system. Effective implementation of the garbage collection system in the Imphal Municipal with the help of Imphal Municipal Corporation is also another reason to control pollution in the Nambul River, he added.

Besides this, communities settling around the periphery of the river have started taking the role of ownership to control dumping of solid waste which has also helped in improving the condition of the river, he further said. He said nearly 30 organizations for conservation of Nambul River have been formed so far.

Brajakumar Singh further said that the problem of inletting effluents from altogether 72 drains is yet to be addressed. For this, two sewerage trunks that pass along Nambul River to drain the polluted water are in construction, Brajakumar Singh informed. This water will be treated at sewage treatment plants which are under construction at Heirangoithong and Iroishemba.

“Once this project is completed, the condition of Nambul River will improve a lot,” he assured.

Brajakumar further said that due to the efforts taken up under the mentioned project, pollution level of the Nambul River has reduced but is yet to be removed from the list of most polluted rivers.


Also Read: Rains and drains

As per CPCB, in order to remove a river for priority II of the most polluted river, the BOD of the river should be less than 6 mg/l in all seasons for a period of four consecutive years. However, the BOD of Nambul River falls to less than 6 mg/l sometimes, but in lean season it usually goes beyond prescribed maximum limit, the Joint Director, Environment and Climate Change said.

With the change of climate, conservation of water bodies is an utmost need as it will help to reduce water scarcity problem and maintain the micro climatic condition of the area. Considering the significance of having water bodies in urban areas to act as sequesters of greenhouse gases, NITI Aayog had also directed to construct artificial water bodies in urban areas, he added and appealed to people of the state to extend their possible contribution in conservation of Nambul River.

Also Read: Rediscovering the Nambul

Advisor, Nambul Turel Kanba Lup, Laikangbam Shanta Singh told the Imphal Free Press that dumping of solid waste at the side of the river bank is almost under control due to the imposition of strict rules. They used to charge fines from those who violate the rules with the highest amount to Rs 10,000, Shanta said.

Shanta said it is very unfortunate to see the deteriorating condition of Nambul River which was solely used for domestic purposes at one point of time by people settling around the river. The unchecked urbanization and increase in population have ultimately affected the ecosystem of the river, he said.

Shanta, however, exuded confidence that people’s mindset is changing as people have started inculcating the habit of disposing waste in the dustbin. Only with these small steps, the condition of Nambul River is getting better, he said, adding that the role of youth is very significant in order to conserve this river.

For the Imphal area, the problem of effluent that flows into the Nambul River may be addressed once the sewage treatment plants are operational. But the big question is, how such similar problems in other 28 urban local bodies of the state would be solved as river water pollution is one of the emerging issues in these places. And if a stitch in time saves nine, wouldn’t it be right and necessary to intervene now and come about with a solution before it’s too late?


First published:


river pollutionNambul riverCPCB

Phurailatpam Keny Devi

Phurailatpam Keny Devi

IFP Reporter, IMPHAL, Manipur


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