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How can we  achieve Aviral Nirmal Dhara of Maa Ganga

Birjesh Goyal

Rapidly increasing population,  rising standards of living and exponential growth of industrialisation and urbanisation have exposed water resources, in general, and rivers, in particular, to various forms of degradation. The mighty Ganga is no exception. The deterioration in the water quality impacts the people immediately. Ganga, in some stretches, particularly during lean seasons has become unfit even  for  bathing.  The  threat  of global  climate  change,  the effect  of glacial melt  on Ganga  flow and  the  impacts  of  infrastructural  projects  in  the  upper  reaches  of  the  river,  raise  issues  that  need  a  comprehensive response.

Demography has an important bearing on the state of the river as it is significantly affected by the population living within the basin. Average population density in the Ganga basin is 520 persons per square km as against 312 for the entire country (2001 census). Major cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Kanpur, Lucknow, Patna, Agra, Meerut, Varanasi and Allahabad are situated in the basin. The cities in the basin  have large and growing populations and a rapidly expanding industrial base. There is increase by 30%  in  urban  population  from  last  census.  This  trend  is  likely  to  continue.  The  pollution  load  is  also  expected to increase rapidly because of continuous rise in urban population.  

In the Ganga basin approximately 12,000 million litres per day (mld) sewage is generated, for which presently there is a treatment capacity of only around 4,000 mld. Approximately 3000 mld of sewage is discharged into the main stem of the river Ganga from the Class I & II towns located along the banks, against which treatment capacity of about 1000 mld has been created till date. The contribution of industrial pollution, volume‐wise, is about 20 per cent but due  to its  toxic and non‐ biodegradable nature, this has much greater significance. The industrial pockets in the catchments of Ramganga and Kali rivers and in Kanpur city are significant sources of industrial pollution. The major contributors are tanneries  in  Kanpur,  distilleries,  paper  mills  and  sugar  mills  in  the  Kosi,  Ramganga  and  Kali  river  catchments.

Municipal  waste  water  treatment  and  reuse  is  in  acute  need  in  countries  like  India  due  to  rapid  urbanization leading to rapid increase in water demand. Dwindling fresh water availability and more waste water generation in urban areas No surface water resources are spared with contamination due to some or other type of waste water  mainly domestic wastewater.  

Normally in India water travel to long distance before it reaches to its usage and similarly for waste water  /  sewage,  it  travel  through main  drain  /  sub  drain  to  finally  reach  the  treatment  facility downstream. This scenario does not ensure cleaner water body in urban local bodies including dirty drain and community do not get benefitted.  There is very less motivation to local urban bodies to have these decentralized facility with state of  the art technology due to various issues. Hence they always look at state authority to install these  facilities for treatment   Urban local bodies has limited resources and financial strength to install these facility. Hence they pass on their responsibility to states/ centre / federal government and Hence violation of globally accepted  concept of polluter pays principle.  

3.5 Billion dollar required only  to treat secondary  treatment of waste water even without nutrient removal  or  any  tertiary  treatment  to meet  BOD  30  and  TSS  50  ppm.  It  will  cover  only  18‐20%  of  population in India. Opex requirement is close to 1.3 Billion dollar required to operate these system.  Only in Ganga basin the CAPEX requirement is 1.34 Billion dollar and Opex will be 0.5 Billion dollar.  

Ganga Action Plan was started in 1986 by Mr. Rajiv Gandhi but in last approximate 38 years not much has  been  achieved  and  in  fact  river  water  quality  has  further  worsen  over  period  of  time  due  to  excessive exploitation of water.  As per Parliament standing committe – 40,000 crore has been spent on Ganga Action Plan but no use for the Maa Ganga as its original form still could not be achieved.  So called prestigious flagship programme in India “Namami Gange” allocated funds of 3 Billion dollar over period of 5 years, whereas only on Ganga basin itself the fund requirement is close to 1.34 Billion dollar for CAPEX and 0.5 billion dollar for OPEX, which will cover only 15% of population. This cost is only  for Sewage  treatment without  taking any cost consideration  for  Common effluent  treatment plant, collection, conveyance, pumping transportation cost in this.   In India 85% population is still not touched wherein urgent need is required to have these facilities to restore / conserve water bodies / river.

We have 225 town on Ganga basin and around 500 Plus town in India. Paradigm shift  is required for Ganga  river  to restore  to its natural  form as its declared as our National River. Original  form  to be achieved by ensuring  

  • Atleast 70% natural flow to be restored to meet ecological flow requirement
  • There should be minimal usage of pesticide and insecticide on crop to stop excessive runoff of these carcinogenic and deadly chemicals to any water body / river.  
  • There  should  be  district  level  /  city  level  monitoring  committee  with  atleast  one environmental engineer / chemical engineer in committee who understand the subject.
  • Industrial effluent flow must be stopped completely by ensuring effective working of common effluent  treatment  plant  and  also  addition  of  new  Common  effluent  treatment  plant  with latest technology.  
  • Existing sewage treatment plant / common effluent treatment plant must be upgraded in time bound manner with strict monitoring of centre / state / district / city level committee.  
  • There  should  be  public  display  like  AQI  for  water  quality  monitoring  outside  the  relevant sewage Treatment Plant / common effluent treatment plant
  • Since online input and output quality monitoring is mandatory now, the reading of individual sewage treatment plant / common effluent treatment plant should be displayed on pollution control website
  • There should be more private participation to make schools / college aware on the working of these projects so that government should be able to appoint them as volunteer as water conservation activist
  • Private expert committee should be formed along with government bodies so as to monitor the progress of these project implementation and also during operation of these projects.
  • Disconnect Sewer and River completely  
  • Local body should be incentivise for effective implementation of these important projects for nation.  
  • Incase of not meeting the prescribed norms the respective Industrial unit should be blacklisted and also there should be green grade system so as to reduce the rating for availing any bank loan.  Similarly for any project executed for government project then respective contracting company should be blacklisted.
  • Water Credit system must start to encourage the Industrial unit / ULB / Municipality those are doing good work for water conservation / efficient treatment / recycling / reuse.  

Restoration  also  include  to  use  the  excess  water  for  the  developmental  work  /  recharge  activity  including  making  dam  and  diverting  the  flows  to  canal  so  that  naturally  water  percolate  down  to  enhance the water table through which we can use the water round the year. Apart from it the canal water also can be used for agricultural activity. This will not only help us in saving huge water outflow  but also helps us in controlling repeated floods in Indian various places.  

We Indian are blessed with Biggest River in the world. Area 1 Million Sq Km, 2500 KM long. Three parts  upper ganga basin, middle ganga basin and lower ganga basin. Upper ganga 294 KM upto Rishikesh from Hilly Terrain. Middle Ganga ‐1071 Km – Rishikesh to Varanasi. Lower Ganga – 1145 Km – Varanasi to Gangasagar.  It Covers 40% (500 Million) people in this country. It Cover 26% of India’s geographical region – touching 11 States, nearly 1 Mn SqKm Ganga Path Gomukh / Gangotri – Uttarkashi – Maneri Bhali Dam – Original – Aviral Dhara   Gomukh –Rudraprayag – dev prayag (mixed here Alaknanda + Bhagirathi + Mandakani Nadi ke saath Sangam)‐ Haridwar – Garh Mukteshwar – Kannauj (Ramganga Nadi + Kali Nadi mixed here) ‐  Kanpur + Fatehpur (Pandu Nadi) – Allahabad  ( Yamuna ) – Mirzapur – Varanasi‐ Patna (Manain mein Son and Saryu)  – Bhagalpur  

To counter any further deterioration of our holy rivers, further intervention needs to be stopped for   achieving our goals to have it in pristine conditions i.e Aviral dhara and Nirmal Dhara.

(Writer is an Environmental activist)




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