Environmental Issues-The Ganges Issue

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English Project:

English Project The Ganges Pollution Issue. Members: Shriganesh P.G. Mohammed Aadhil Sukhesh Naik Jayaneeth


Introduction The Ganges The Ganges or Ganga, is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. By discharge it ranks among the world's top 20 rivers. The Ganges basin is the most heavily populated river basin in the world, with over 400 million people and a population density of about 1,000 inhabitants per square mile.

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The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. It has also been important historically: many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Patliputra, Kannauj,Kara, Kashi, Allahabad, Murshidabad, Munger, Baharampur and Kolkata) have been located on its banks. Perennial rivers such as the Ganges have been held in high regard since time immemorial. This current of acknowledgement runs through the entire subcontinent, as seen from references to the Ganges in ancient South Indian literature.

Scientific Importance:

Scientists and religious leaders have speculated on the causes of the river's apparent self-purification effect, in which water-borne bacteria such as dysentery and cholera are killed off, thus preventing large-scale epidemics. Some studies have reported that the river retains more oxygen than is typical for comparable rivers; this could be a factor leading to fewer disease agents being present in the water. Scientific Importance

The Environmental Problems:

The Environmental Problems The Ganges was ranked among the top five most polluted rivers of the world in 2007, with fecal coliform levels in the river near Varanasi more than hundred times the official Indian government limits. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.It is filled with chemical wastes, sewage and even human and animal remains which carry major health risks by either direct bathing in the dirty water, or by drinking.

The condition of the Ganges Past Present:

The condition of the Ganges Past Present

Causes of the Ganges Pollution:

Causes of the Ganges Pollution Sewage from many cities along the river's course, industrial waste and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics have added large amounts of pollutants to the river as it flows through densely populated areas. The cremated and uncremated dead bodies that are let to flow in the river, as per the Hindu tradition, have also added to the pollution. The “holy dips” and bathes in the river, too, have added to the pollution. Domestic and industrial wastes, especially from leather factories, are dumped in the river, untreated.

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Industrial Wastes in the Ganges

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The Ganges flows through the northern plains, where farming is the primary occupation of the people. The chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides etc used in those agricultural lands finally end up in the river. Such chemicals make the water unfit for human and animal consumption. The people not only bathe in the river, but also wash their laundry. They even take their animals to bathe in the Ganges, thus making the water completely polluted.


Consequences The people living in the region around the Ganges suffer and sometimes, even die from diseases like diarrhea, viral hepatitis, dysentery, typhoid, cholera and gastroenteritis. There is a lack of clean drinking water. Since the river Ganges passes through many different parts of India, the pollutants contained are deposited in other cleaner areas too. The aquatic life in the Ganges, too, is facing a huge threat. The fishes die due to the polluted and poisonous water. One of the major examples is the Ganges Dolphin, which has become an endanged species,with a population of just 2000.

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The endangered Gangetic Dolphin

Ganga Action Plan (GAP):

Ganga Action Plan (GAP) The Ganga Action Plan or GAP was a program launched by Rajiv Gandhi in April 1985 in order to reduce the pollution load on the river. The program was launched with much fanfare, but it failed to decrease the pollution level in the river, after spending 901.71 crore  (approx.1010) rupees over a period of 15 years. The activities of GAP phase I initiated in 1985 were declared closed on 31 March 2000. The steering Committee of the national river conservation Authority reviewed the progress of the GAP and necessary correction on the basis of lessons learned and experiences gained from the GAP phase; 2.00 schemes have been completed under this plan. A million liters of sewage is targeted to be intercepted, diverted and treated. The Phase-II of the program was approved in stages from 1993 onwards, and included the following tributaries of Ganga: Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda. As of 2011, it is currently under implementation.

Important reasons for the failure of Ganga Action Plan-1:

1.Non availability of Environmental State-of-the-Art. 2.Inappropriate Environmental Planning. 3.Establishment of non specific Sewage Treatment Plants on highly productive crop lands. 4.Shortage of authentic information on quality & quantity of waste generation, mode of disposal, possibilities for recycling, development of community treatment plants and cost effective treatment technologies. 5.Insignificant cooperation between Central, State and Local Government bodies. Important reasons for the failure of Ganga Action Plan-1

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6.Lack of local technical expert committees for monitoring the work. 7.Least input from multidisciplinary environmental experts in policy planning of the Ganga Action Plan. 8.Short of global tender policies for formulation and execution of pollution control projects. 9.Improper mass awareness and involvement of Ganga users in different projects. 10.Lack of long term involvement of authorities to fix responsibilities for failure. 11. Least political dedication and vision to save the Ganga.

What should be done?:

What should be done? The reasons listed in the previous 2 slides, due to which the GAP failed, must be eliminated, and a stronger GAP should be launched. Heavy fines must be imposed on the people dumping domestic and industrial wastes in the Ganges. Volunteers should be assigned to clear physical wastes such as plastic from the river. Awareness programmes and campaigns must be conducted, making the people aware of the present condition of the Ganges, the consequences, and they must be asked to eliminate the causes of pollution in the Ganges.

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Sewage treatment plants must be constructed on the banks of the Ganges. Chemicals and other industrial wastes must be treated, before being dumped in the Ganges. Children must be taught to recycle and not to dump the wastes in the Ganges. Experts must be brought in from other countries, too, to help the GAP. The dead bodies must be completely burnt or cremated before letting them flow in the Ganges.

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As you can see, there is a lot to be done till the Ganges becomes the Holy river it used to be. Each and every citizen of India has the duty to preserve and save the Ganges, as the Ganges is a thing of pride for the Indians. Only with the whole effort of the Indians can the Ganges be pure and unpolluted. So, let us all join together and work hard for the purification of the Ganges.

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Thank you The End