Published On: Mon, Sep 26th, 2016

A holy river or mere sewer? Modi govt’s Rs 2,000 crore plan to revive Ganga yields no results


  • New report shows Ganga has become filthier.

  • Its water quality has worsened at several places.

  • Rs 20,000 crore for clean-up has shown little result.

Crores of rupees spent on cleaning the Ganga over the years have gone down the drain with the holy river becoming filthier.

A recent report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows that water quality has worsened at places between Haridwar and Kanpur with heavy presence of fecal coliform bacteria and pollutants like heavy metals and pesticides. The 2,510-kilometre long river that runs from a glacier in the western Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal supports more than 400 million of India’s 1.25 billion population.

In the study “Restoration and rejuvenation of Ganga”,the board has said, “Now, the River Ganga is blocked and dammed at many places (Upper Himalayan stretches and on the plains such as Haridwar, Bijnor, Narora and Kanpur) and water has been diverted for various uses. As a result, the water quality and ecological sanctity is threatened.”


The report has made many startling revelations about the water quality due to discharge of untreated sewage into the river. It says that at present 823.1 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage is being discharged, without treatment, over a distance of 543 km between Haridwar and Kanpur. Also, the stretch is affected by 1,072 polluting industries.

The latest data show that the water quality worsens as the river flows from Haridwar down to Kanpur.

While the quality criteria mentions that the fecal coliform content should be less than 2500 MPN/100 ml, in a part of Kanpur it reached 40,000 this year. In 2015, the figure it was 20,889 at that location. The CPCB has suggested that 30 storm water drains carrying sewage, sullage and other wastes joining the Ganga at various locations, should have flow measuring systems at the terminal points for assessing the quantity of wastewater being discharged.

Also, these drains should be hygienically maintained and properly dredged at regular intervals. The dredged material should be disposed of properly without any adverse environmental impacts. The board has also recommended that all the factories discharging industrial effluents should transmit online data of their waste matter quality to pollution control boards both at the Centre and state.

“These industries should also submit fortnightly data of effluent-quality based on samples collected manually and getting it analysed through laboratory recognised under the Environment Protection Act,” it said.

The BJP-led government recently launched the Namami Gange programme on the banks of the river in Uttarakhand when 250 projects worth Rs 1,500 crore were launched.

These projects were also launched at 108 places situated on the banks of sub-tributaries. Officials said that from the Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, “Namami Gange” will ensure cleanliness of the river for which Rs 20,000 crore have been earmarked.

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