Ganga remains maili PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 May 2017 05:42
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Sarthak's edit

Things might change with BJP in UP, but long way to go

Given how little previous efforts to clean the Ganges achieved, from the Ganga Action Plan was announced in 1986 to the constitution of the National Ganga River Basin Authority in 2009, much was expected from the Namami Gange announced by the government in 2014, more so since this was a pet project of prime minister Narendra Modi. But, as an RTI reply cited by The Times of India shows, the river’s waters are unfit for even bathing along Haridwar, with the water failing the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) tests on four indicators of acceptable levels of pollution. While the floor level for dissolved oxygen levels for bathing is 5mg/l, the reported numbers fell to 4 mg/l in certain locations where the city abuts the river. Total coliform (bacteria) level in Ganga waters in Haridwar range from 90-1600 MPN/100ml while it has to be under 500 for the water to be safe to bathe in; biological oxygen demand levels are twice the CPCB’s acceptable limit. Given Haridwar is in the upper reaches of the Ganga basin, the levels of pollution are only likely to get compounded downstream as many industrial cities jot the river’s banks there. Indeed, in the Rajya Sabha, junior water resources minister Vijay Goel said data from respective state pollution control boards shows that the river doesn’t meet bathing quality in Haridwar, districts Kannauj to Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, and Berhampore (district Murshidabad) to Diamond Harbour (South 24 Parganas) in West Bengal.

While the Namami Gange requires action at the level of the state and cities/towns along the river’s course, even the central government is missing most targets. Against the budget of `20,000 crore for five years, the government allocated `1,775 crore in FY16 and FY17. This has led to the creation of just 149 million litres per day (mld) of sewerage treatment capacity along the Ganga as compared to the 1,025 mld of capacity-creation plans that have been sanctioned so far. The National Clean Ganga Mission targets a no-untreated-sewerage-released by 2020 and also aims at rehabilitating 1,089 mld of existing sewerage treatment capacity and laying/ rehabilitating of 3,627.15 km of sewer lines. As of September last year, as per Goel’s Rajya Sabha reply, just over a fifth of the required work on the sewer network had been completed. Saving the Ganga will need much more expedited work, especially given how the pressure from the cities along the river is increasing. As per a 2013 report from the CPCB, the measured sewage load on the Ganga was 6,087 mld as opposed to the official sewage load of 2,723 mld—it would have increased a lot more by now.


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