A SEASONAL ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACT OF COAL FLY ASH DISPOSAL ON THE RIVER YAMUNA, DELHI: II. BIOLOGY

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Abstract

The impact of fly ash on the biology of the Yamuna River, Delhi, was studied. Effluents come from a 200 MW capacity I.P. thermal power station. Seasonal variations in the biological features in the non-impacted (Y-1) and the impacted (Y-2) segments of the river receiving fly ash effluents were studied. 60 genera of phytoplankton including 29 Chlorophyceae, 19 Bacillariophyceae, 8 Cyanobacteria, and 4 Euglenophyceae were recorded. Phytoplankton diversity was reduced at the impacted site in comparison to the non-impacted site of the river and substantial changes in the composition of various groups inhabiting these areas were observed. Zooplankton were also reduced at Y-2 compared to Y-1, especially rotifers and protozoans, while copepods and nauplii larvae were not affected to the same degree. Species diversity was not significantly different at Y-2 and Y-1 but similarity index varied from low to high between the two stations. Thus, not only was the density, number of genera and diversity reduced, even the generic composition of the plankton was markedly affected in the impacted waters. The observed perturbations could be due to sedimentation of ash particles, pH or elevated metal or salt concentration. A change in the concentration of one or more constituents disturbs the relationship between biota and could be the possible cause of reduced densities in the impacted waters.

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