Bengaluru: A river is not just a river. It is symbol of prosperity, a civilisation and salubriousness.

For centuries together, they have been an integral part of mankind.

But what if we tell you that these rivers, which all of us revere to the hilt, are turning out to be repositories of toxicity and filth, endangering all our lives?

Strange, sad and even shocking, but the truth is not just bitter and harsh, but it strikes at the very core of our existence.

For a moment, let’s concentrate on Karnataka alone.

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), has released a list of how polluted the rivers in Karnataka are, as part of its quarterly assessment. You may find it difficult to believe, but the waters of as many as 15 rivers across the state, are unfit for even bathing, and we are not talking about its fitness for drinking purposes.

Many rivers, including Cauvery and Tungabhadra were classified as C and D, in the months of January, February and March. Category C refers to water that can be drinkable for only after conventional treatment after disinfection, while category D refers to water that can be used for conservation of wildlife and not fit for human consumption.

While the situation gets from bad to worse, it is none other than ourselves who are to blame.

Dr Lingaraju, an expert in river rejuvenation, said, “Used water from urban areas are getting into rivers. This used water contains a lot of pollutants let by industries and irrigational fields. They contain pesticides, insecticides and other harmful effluents. Groundwater is also getting polluted. When these pollutants get discharged into rivers, it is only harming them.”

And what about the solution? Well, he said, “Rainwater harvesting and recharging groundwater reduce contamination in groundwater. And when this less polluted groundwater is let more into rivers, they can remain healthy.”

Also, at the domestic/house level, the expert has this to say, “Every house has to use a certain kind of enzymes or bacteria which are environment-friendly. When such enzymes or bacteria are used, they can reduce a lot of pollution in the initial stages.”