GS III – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Ganga river originates in Himalayas, it has been cradle for human civilization since times immemorial. It is a sacred river and deeply revered by people in India. However it is also one of the most polluted rivers in India due to discharge of huge quantities of untreated solid and liquid waste by households and industries.
The stretch of Ganga covers a length of 2525 kilometers across five states namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It has a catchment area of 8,61,404 square km(26% land area) covering over a quarter of country’s land area and sustaining 46% of the total population of the country. It touches 118 towns and 1657 Gram Panchayats across 66 districts of 5 states of India.
More than 12,000 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of sewage is generated along the basin as against treatment capacity of 4000 MLD. 20% of pollution is industrial, caused by tanneries, paper mills, sugar mills, etc.
National Mission for Clean Ganga
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). At national level NMCG is the coordinating body and is being supported by States Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) of UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar and West Bengal which, are also registered as societies under Societies Registration Act, 1860 and a dedicated Nodal Cell in Jharkhand.
The Aims and Objectives of NMCG
- To ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach.
- To promote inter-sectoral co-ordination for comprehensive planning and management
- To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.
The Vision for Ganga Rejuvenation constitutes restoring the wholesomeness of the river defined in terms of ensuring
- “Aviral Dhara” (Continuous Flow),
- “Nirmal Dhara”(Unpolluted Flow)
- “Swachch Kinara” (Clean Ghats)
The main activities undertaken under NMCG include sewage and effluent management including creation of new and rehabilitation of existing Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), complete sanitation coverage of Gram Panchayats, development of model cremation/dhobi ghats, development of decision support system in GIS platform for efficient planning and monitoring and creation of an IT based monitoring centre with capabilities of real time alerts and prediction.
Due importance has also been accorded to bio diversity, conservation, maintenance of flow in the river and afforestation along river side with medicinal and native plant species along with conservation of aquatic species.
- Kanpur is most polluting city in the banks of Ganga due to its tanneries. Government is focussing on tanneries of Kanpur and Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) in Allahabad. 20 MLD Effluent Treatment Plant is planned in Jajmau, near Kanpur to treat effluent from tanneries.
- Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) is a technological concept where the entire industrial wastewater output is reused, after appropriate treatment, without discharging a single drop into any river.
- Under ZLD water, both treated and untreated, should not be discharged in river. Hence the treated water is being supplied to irrigational and industrial purposes.
- Tanneries can be relocated and supplied with treated water as they are heavily water dependent.
- In-Situ and Ex-situ bioremediation treatment of drains which are connected with STPs.
- NGOs, Private sector, NRIs are encouraged to take part in cleaning drives, awareness campaigns and beautification projects
- Hybrid annuity model, a paradigm shift in funding pattern, is utilized for Public Private Partnership projects to ensure viability for private sector in cleaning ganga.
- Central Pollution Control Board data of 2017 shows improvement in 33 locations, with Biological Oxygen demand decreased in 26 locations.
- Prime Minister Office is directly monitoring these projects and therefore it ensures compliance.
- 4464 villages across the banks of Ganga were made Open Defecation Free (ODF), 12 lakhs toilets were constructed in the villages
- Continuous Effluent monitoring System was installed in Polluting Industries to monitor the industrial discharge. Failure of compliance attracts penalties.
The Sacredness of Ganga and religious belief has made many Ghats of Ganga as crematoriums. Floating dead bodies a major cause of concern for both river and public health.
Ways to address the issue,
- A mission mode awareness programme can be created to spread awareness among common public.
- Religious and spiritual leaders can be roped in to create awareness and carry out cleaning drives.
- A separate stream or isolated pond can be constructed for religious purposes as blanket ban on cremating practise may lead to social unrest in region.
The pollution in Ganga can only be mitigated through coordinated functioning of government, private and civil society organisations. People’s participation must be encouraged and more focus must be given to awareness campaigns. Only then Ganga can have Aviral dhara, Nirmal dhara and Swachch Kinara!