Goa water unsafe for bathing, fishing: Marine Scientists

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Panaji, Jun 30: The marine scientists declared that the water off the state's coast of one of the most desired tourist spots, Goa, contain alarmingly high levels of coliform bacteria caused by the release of untreated sewage.

Scientists of the Goa-based marine research organisation, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) have said that the waters off Goa's coast are 'unsafe for recreational bathing and fishing'.

"Seawater along the Indian coasts are classified by the Central Pollution Control Board of India (CPCB) as fit for commercial fishing, contact recreation and bathing activities when the faecal coliform (FC) count is 100 CFU/100 ml. But we found FC levels as high as 190 CFU/100 ml in certain locations of Goa waters," NIO's marine scientist Dr N. Ramaiah said.

Ramaiah and his marine research team did a constant study on this over six years. "In both Mandovi and Zuari estuaries (both primary rivers in Goa), where fishing and tourist-related activities are sizable and long-term data collection was regular, we observed high counts of TC, FC, VC, SH and SA (forms of bacteria) in particular during monsoon due to increased land runoff. Further, the abundance has increased significantly over the years in the water column to much above either USEPA or India permissible limits," he said.

He adds that a film of water that forms around a person's body after entering into the water contain high concentrations of coliform bacteria, at any given point with about 1,200 cells of seriously harmful bacteria in contact. It is fortunate that external contamination is rare. But if one have a cut on his skin or a wound it could be serious.

"Pathogenic bacteria were detected even 20 km and 25 km offshore mainly due to dumping of raw or improperly treated sewage effluents either from land, fishing trawlers and/or ships in the anchorage," he said.

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