Pollution in Ganga River
Illegal sand mining from Ganga river beds
Idol immersion in Ganga
Ganga action plan
Ganga finds its name in the list of the five most polluted rivers of the world. In certain areas in Ganga river
the bacteria levels are more than 100 times higher than the limits set by the government. From washing clothes to dumping bodies, the river's purity is maligned every day and in spite
of the alarming levels of pollution, people continue to use the water to drink and take a bath.
Today, over 29 cities, 70 towns, and thousands of villages extend along the
Ganga banks. Nearly all of their sewage - over 1.3 billion liters per day - goes directly into the river, along with thousands of animal
carcasses, mainly cattle. Another 260 million liters of industrial waste are added to this by hundreds of factories along the rivers
banks. Municipal sewage constitutes 80 per cent by volume of the total waste dumped into the
Ganga, and industries contribute about 15 percent. The majority of the Ganga pollution is organic waste,
sewage, trash, food, and human and animal remains. Over the past century, city populations along the
Ganga have grown at a tremendous rate, while waste-control infrastructure has remained relatively unchanged.
Recent water samples collected in Varanasi revealed fecal-coliform counts of about 50,000 bacteria per 100 milliliters of water, 10,000% higher than the government standard for safe river bathing. The result of this
pollution is an array of water-borne diseases including cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and amoebic dysentery. An estimated 80% of all health
problems and one-third of deaths in India are attributable to water-borne diseases.
The sacred practice of depositing human remains in the Ganga also poses health
threats because of the unsustainable rate at which partially cremated cadavers are dumped. In Varanasi, some 40,000 cremations
are performed each year, most on wood pyres that do not completely consume the body. Along with the remains of these traditional
funerals, there are thousands more who cannot afford cremation and whose bodies are simply thrown into the Ganga. In addition, the
carcasses of thousands of dead cattle, which are sacred to Hindus, go into the river each year. An inadequate cremation procedures
contributes to a large number of partially burnt or unburnt corpses floating down the Ganga.
Hundreds of corpses burn on the line of wooden pyres. Soot-covered men bustle about, raking in the still-glowing ashes,
sweeping them into the river. Gray dust from the pyres floats atop the waves, mixing with flower garlands and foam. The dust and
debris resurfaces some distance away, this time, intermixed with polythene bags, empty cans and dirty clothes. This is the holy Ganga at its holiest spot Varanasi.
The industrial pollutants also a major source of contamination in the Ganga. A
total of 146 industries are reported to be located along the river Ganga between Rishikesh and Prayagraj. 144 of these are in Uttar
Pradesh (U.P.) and 2 in Uttrakhand. The major polluting industries on the Ganga are the leather industries, especially near Kanpur,
which use large amounts of Chromium and other toxic chemical waste, and much of it finds its way into the meager flow of the Ganga.
From the plains to the sea, pharmaceutical companies, electronics plants, textile and paper industries, tanneries, fertilizer
manufacturers and oil refineries discharge effluent into the river. This hazardous waste includes hydrochloric acid, mercury and other
heavy metals, bleaches and dyes, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls highly toxic compounds that accumulate in animal and human tissue.
The tannery industry mushrooming in North India has converted
the Ganga River into a dumping ground. The tanning industry discharges different types of waste into the environment, primarily
in the form of liquid effluents containing organic matters, chromium, sulphide ammonium and other salts. According to the
information obtained from the UP State Pollution Control Board, there are 402 tanneries operating in the city Kanpur of which 65
were closed On September 17, 2010 issuing notices to 253 tanneries operating in the city, the State Pollution Control Board
has asked them to comply with central norms to curb pollution within 15 days or face consequences.
In a case related to pollution of the Ganga, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was informed on March 1, 2014 that the Central Pollution Control
Board (CPCB) has identified 764 grossly polluting industries in five states on the main stem of the river and its tributaries.
The information was provided to the tribunal through a joint affidavit filed by the Union Environment Ministry and the National Ganga River
Basin Authority (NGRBA). It has been mentioned in the affidavit that the 764 industries identified as grossly polluting by CPCB are located in Uttarakhand, UP,
Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Illegal Mining in and around the Haridwar, boulders abutting the river are being removed for construction, causing damage to the
river's banks and bed. Tractors and trucks often just drive through the bed in the dry season. Recently the
Swami Nigamanand sacrifice to save the Ganga who was protesting against mining in the Ganga.
Four major tributaries of the Ganga — Pilee Nadhi, Barasati Nallah, Rawasan river and Kotawali river — on the Haridwar- Nijababad highway, only to find that they had been mercilessly
targeted by illegal miners. Hundreds of labourers could be seen filling trucks, lined up to transport a mix of sand and stone from
the shallow riverbed. “Most tributaries of the Ganga are drying because of construction of dams, and destruction of the ecology, in
upstream areas,” said Ravi Chopra, director of the Dehradun-based People’s Science Institute and member of the Prime Minister-headed National Ganga Basin River Authority (NBGRA).
According to information provided to Parliament on March 22, 2012,
the fine collected from illegal miners of minor minerals was R115 crore in 2010-11, as compared to just R84 crore for major minerals. Around 4,640 cases of illegal mining have been detected in
The Ganga is one of the world’s most rapidly shrinking rivers, a recent study of 900 rivers in the world has found. One of India’s most culturally and economically important rivers is among 45 in the
study that showed a statistically significant reduction in discharge to the ocean. In 2004, the Ganga had 20 per cent less water than it did 56 years
earlier, the study, conducted by the National Centre for Atmosphere Research in Colorado in the US, concluded. This centre belongs to the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research.
Ganga threatened by climate change
National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)
Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganga and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage The original Gangotri
Temple was built by the Gurkha general Amar Singh Thapa. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the
name Ganga from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the
Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
Flash floods, cloudbursts and landslips on June 16-17 claimed thousands lives
in Uttarakhand and left more than 90,000 pilgrims stranded in Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri in Himalayan Char Dham
Illegal sand mining from Ganga river beds
The annual ritual of immersing idols of Goddess Durga and other Hindu deities in the Ganga river has
threaten the survival of the endangered river dolphin and other aquatic creatures but also increases pollution in the already
polluted river. Thousands of idols were immersed in the Ganga in Kolkata, Patna and other cites situated on the banks of river last
year to mark the end of the Durga Puja festival.
Concerned over alarming pollution level in the Ganges river, the Allahabad High Court on October 20, 2010 asked Uttar Pradesh
government to issue a notification banning the use of polythene in the vicinity of the river. The Calcutta High Court on October 5,
2010 directed that the guideline framed by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) will have to be followed for cleaning up the river Ganga after immersion of idols.
An expenditure of Rs. 896.05 crore has been incurred so far under the Ganga Action Plan for conservation
and pollution abatement of river Ganga.Discharge standards have been notified for industries under the Environment (Protection) Act,
1986. The State Pollution Control Boards/ Pollution Control Committees have been empowered under the Environment (Protection)
Act, 1986 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 to take appropriate action against defaulting industries. The
Central Government has constituted the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) in February, 2009 as an empowered authority under
Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for conservation of the river Ganga. This information was given by the Minister of
State for Environment and Forests Shrimati Jayanthi Natarajan in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on August 30, 2011.
After two Ganga Action Plans failed to deliver the goods, seven major IITs of the country have joined hands to find ways to
clean up the national river. After perusing a report submitted by the seven IITs, namely IIT Kanpur, Mumbai, Guwahati, Delhi,
Kharagpur, Chennai and Roorkee, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has asked them June 10, 2010 to prepare a work plan for
National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) in the next 18 months.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on June 10, 2010
approved a proposal for carrying out the second phase of Ganga Action Plan worth Rs.496.90 crore with Japanese assistance at Varanasi.
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was initiated by the late Prime Minster Indira Gandhi, who called for a comprehensive survey of the
situation in 1979. In 1985, the government of India launched the Ganga Action Plan, which was devised to clean up the river
by installing sewage treatment plants and threatening fines and litigation against industries that pollute.
The 2006 official audit of the Ganga Action Plan has revealed that it has met only 39 per cent of its sewage treatment target.
Moreover, the plan is behind schedule by over 13 years. According to the legal counsel, Central Pollution Control
Board, Mr Vijay Panjawani, even after spending Rs 24,000 crore, the Ganga remains dirty as ever.
A total of Rs.740.11 crore has been released to different States so far for implementation of
schemes for the river Ganga under Ganga Action Plan (GAP). The GAP Phase – I, the first attempt of the Government of India to
undertake pollution abatement works in the river Ganga, was launched in the year 1985 with the objective of treating 882 million litres
per day (mld) of sewage and improving its water quality to bathing class standards. This Phase was declared completed in March, 2000
with the creation of sewage treatment capacity of 865 mld. Since GAP Phase – I did not cover the pollution load of Ganga fully, GAP
Phase – II which includes plans for its major tributaries namely, Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda, besides Ganga, was approved in
stages from 1993 onwards. The above two phases of Ganga Action Plan have continued since their inception with GAP-I having been
completed in 2000 and GAP-II is presently under implementation.
A total of 146 industries are reported to be located along
the river Ganga between Rishikesh and Prayagraj. 144 of these are in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and 2 in Uttrakhand. Of the grossly polluting
industries in U.P., 82 industries have installed Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) and are reported to be complying with the standards,
27 industries, though have installed ETPs are not reported to be complying with the prescribed standards and 35 industries are
reported to have been closed. The Central Pollution Control Board has issued directions to the State Pollution Control Boards under
Section 18 1(b) of Water Act, 1974 for taking appropriate legal action against the defaulting industries. In the State of Uttrakhand,
of the 2 Grossly Polluting Industries, one is reported to have installed the ETP and the other is reported to have been closed. As
regards the number of drains falling into the river in the towns covered under the Ganga Action Plan and number of identified Gross
Polluting Industries which discharge their effluent in the river between Rishikesh and Prayagraj, the same is given in the Annexure.
GAP Phase-I was declared closed in March, 2000. Since GAP Phase-I did not cover the pollution load of Ganga fully, GAP
Phase II which included Plans for Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda besides Ganga was approved in various stages from 1993
onwards. The present sanctioned cost of works for Ganga river (main stem) under GAP Phase-II is Rs.564 crore against which an amount of
Rs.373.58 crore has been released to the State Implementing Agencies. Out of a total of 311 schemes sanctioned, 185 schemes have
been completed so far and the balance schemes are in different stages of implementation.
Ganga teeming with deadly superbugs: Study
Experts from UK's Newcastle University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, sampled water and sediments at seven sites along the
upper Ganga and found that in May-June , when millions of pilgrims travel to Rishikesh and Haridwar , levels of resistance genes that lead
to "superbugs" were about 60 times higher than other times of the year.
The NDM-1 was first identified in New Delhi and coded by the resistant gene blaNDM-1 . Until recently, strains that carry blaNDM-1 were only found in clinical settings or hospitals but in 2008,
blaNDM-1 positive strains were found in surface waters in Delhi. Since then, blaNDM-1 has been found elsewhere in the world, including new variants. .