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Indian Scientists: 'Sweet' Seawater No Miracle; Tests Show Pollution, Sewage

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MUMBAI, India -- Even as people flocked to the Mahim creek here to drink the Arabian seawater following rumours that it had turned sweet, municipal authorities Saturday said the water was undrinkable.

Based on studies by oceanography scientists, the Mumbai municipal authorities stated that the lowering of salinity of seawater behind a mosque here is due to percolating rainwater from the nearby Mithi river and Vehar lake.

‘The area behind the Mahim mosque is a natural basin where the water from the Vehar lake and Mithi river collect before merging in the sea,’ health officials of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) told reporters after tests by scientists from the state-run National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

All tests done on samples collected since Friday night at both Mahim creek and Shivaji Park seashore showed that the level of solid waste, nitrate and chloride was higher than the permissible level for drinking water.

‘Tests show that while the salinity level has reduced, the other properties remain the same. The high level of nitrate, chloride and solid properties remain high, making the water non-potable as per World Health Organisation standards,’ said the officials.

Locally known as Bandra ki Khadi, Mahim creek forms the boundary between the city and the suburbs.

Besides the Mithi river, industrial waste also drains into the creek before discharging the foul smelling water into the Mahim bay.

Officials attributed the lower salinity of water at the Mahim creek to the overflowing of water at Vehar lake, which is the source of drinking water for the city.

The lake water had flowed into the Mithi river and from there merged into the natural basin behind the mosque, temporarily reducing the salinity of seawater. By Friday evening the salinity level of Mahim creek seawater had started rising again.

Unmindful of the dirty water, thousands of people had started converging at the creek since Friday night after some fishermen reported that the seawater had ‘miraculously’ turned sweet.

People could be seen scooping up the water in their hands and drinking while many even collected it to take back home.

Families waded into the murky water in which garbage and plastic could be seen floating.

Despite the police and civic authorities issuing warnings, there was no let-up in the people rushing to get the ‘miracle’ water.

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