Reference to the images of greens of algal bloom were repeated multiple times in my interactions with the diverse locals of Nashik. These descriptions very often were coupled with instances of, as they described, “foul odor and filthy sight of the riverscape”. Many locals claimed that “filth in the river and bad odor coming from the river has become a recurring phenomenon.” One of my interlocutors added to this description by suggesting that, “What we see flowing in the river is not river water rather it is sewage water of Nashik which is defiling the material and immaterial image of Godavari.” The incessant inflow of insufficiently treated and sometimes untreated wastewater into the Godavari River and the toxicities of sewage materializes in the form of algal blooms. Such episodes of algal bloom create thick green islands over the course of the river. When the algal bloom starts appearing near the religious stretches of the river, they become visible to the people and administration. And the discourses around toxification of river through inflow of sewage emerges with algal bloom and dies down with the manual removal of algal growth. However, the mixing of toxic sewage with river water continues.
Targeting the algal blooms, materialization of toxicities, highlights the need of (re)producing a sanitized image of Godavari without acknowledging the root cause of the production of toxicities.
This visualization is part of the Visualizing Toxic Places collection. It is also part of the Sacred Toxic: Narratives of Visible and Invisible Toxicities of Godavari River photo essay.
Ethnogtraphic Fieldwork in Nashik by Shilpa Dahake