The Ganga is the largest river in India with a phenomenal religious importance for Hindus. River Ganga is the main source of physical and spiritual sustenance of Indian civilization for millennia. To the Indian mind, River Ganga is living Goddess, on the banks of which are situated some of the world’s oldest inhabited cities like Varanasi and Patna. It provides water to around 40% of India’s population athwart in 11 states, serving an appraised population of 500 million people or more, which is more than any other river in the domain. Today, it is painful to see it as one of the most contaminated rivers in the world.
A number of initiatives have been undertaken to clean the river but unsuccessful to convey anticipated results. After getting designated, India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi affirmed to work for cleaning the river and regulate pollution. Subsequently, Namami Gange-The Ganga rejuvenation project was announced by the Government in July 2014 budget. The Centre had set a target of three years to rejuvenate the polluted holy river Ganga. In this regard the Govt. formulated an integrated plan ‘Namaami Gange‘.
In the budget tabled in Parliament on July 10, 2014, the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitly announced an integrated Ganga development project titled Namami Gange and allocated 2,037 crore for this purpose. As a part of this program, Government of India ordered the closure of 48 industrial units around Ganga.
Causes for pollution of Ganga
Some of the causes are untreated sewage, industrial waste, reduced flow and rampant underground water etc. which affect millions of people who depend on the Ganga’s water.
The Ganga river basin is one of the most fertile and densely populated regions in the world and covers an area of 1,080,000 km2 (400,000 square miles). River flows through 29 cities with population over around 100,000 km. A large proportion of the waste in the Ganges is from this population through domestic usage like bathing, laundry and public defecation.
Several tanneries chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries, slaughter houses, and hospitals pollute Ganga by dumping untreated waste into it. Industrial effluents are about 12% of the total volume of effluent reaching the Ganga. Though a relatively low expanse, they are a cause for major fear since they are often toxic and non-biodegradable.
During festive seasons, over 70 million people bathe in the Ganga over a few weeks to cleanse themselves from their sins. Some resources like food, waste or leaves are left in the Ganges for ritualistic reasons.
Ganga Rejuvenation – As cleaning technology for river
Namami Gange is a combined rejuvenation programme and conservation started via the Central Government (June 2014), as cleaning the Ganga and rejuvenating it was one of the primary projects of the Modi Government. After seven years since then, the data available with the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) shows that out of 341 projects, 147 (or 43 per cent) are completed. A majority of projects are related to sewage substructure and 61 out of 157 sewage projects (39 per cent) have been completed so far. But post- pandemic era saw instances of dead bodies dumped into the Ganga in India. A report of a specialized virology testing institute, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) initiated the search of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection and analysis of water quality due to discarding of dead bodies in the Ganga River. After examining, a notification was released to all the States to ensure that the cremation of suspected COVID-19 patients was in line with the Government of India’s guidelines and that strict vigilance along the length of the river was maintained. It called for a series of meetings with the concerned authorities. The rolling out of measures to ensure that the health of the river as well as dwindling and the lives of the people are safe
Therefore, there is need to nurture Ganga for restoring the wholesomeness and creating a safe and better ecosystem. That is the need of hour to protect holy Ganga with the slogan….
“Cleaning Ganga now and forever”