River Ganga Continues To Be Severely Polluted Even After Modi Govt Spending About 4,000 Cr On Cleaning It: RTI
Every year thousands of people all over the country travel to many holy destinations in India to take a dip in river Ganga- one of the sacred rivers to Hindus. The river, mythologically famous for washing away everyone’s sin is no more clean, and it is an open secret now. When the Modi government came to power in 2014, it claimed to make Ganga cleaner. However, a recent RTI report recovered by The Wire has revealed that the holy Ganga has not become any cleaner under the Modi government.
According to the response to the RTI, the Ganga’s contamination level has increased in many places since 2013. Since 2014, the NDA led Modi government has released about Rs 5,523 crore for flushing out the contaminants from Ganga. Out of the total fund allocated, Rs 3,867 crores has already been spent till now with no visible change in the river.
The recent death of eminent environmentalist, Professor GD Agrawal, who had devoted his life for the cause of cleaning river Ganga, has raised questions on the work done by the Modi government for the cleaning of Ganga. The question now is how the BJP government ignored its promise to clean Ganga.
Ganga can no more take away your sins
A government body, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)- an organisation that runs under the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, has provided the information about the amount of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Dissolved Oxygen (DO) present in the river.
If explained in simpler words, higher the level of BOD, the oxygen present in the water would get depleted sooner. A high BOD level in water bodies is harmful to organisms living in it and for the health of the river as well. According to experts, the BOD level in water bodies should be less than 3 mg/l. If not then the water is not suitable for domestic consumption like washing clothes, utensils and drinking as well. As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which has been examining the water quality of rivers since 1980, river Ganga was examined with a high level of BOD in 2017.
In 2017, the BOD level of Ganga was more than 3 mg/l at 36 of the 80 sites that the CPCB has examined so far. At another 30 locations, the BOD level was up to 2-3 mg/l. The BOD level was analysed to be higher than the previous years. In 2013, it was 3 mg/l at 31 sites and 2-3 mg/l at another 24 Ganga sites, as reported by The Wire.
Ganga in danger
Another parameter which tells of the quality of water is dissolved oxygen (DO). Higher DO level means that the river is less polluted. As per the accepted standards, the DO level in water bodies should be more than 4 mg/l. Sadly, according to the CPCB examination, the quantity of Dissolved Oxygen in several parts of Ganga is continuously decreasing.
In India, Ganga is considered “Pious” and lot of people use it for auspicious purposes as well as drinking water. However, CPCB report suggests that almost half the sites where Ganga water is tested, the water is unsafe for domestic purposes.
Ganga water is safe at its origin
The CPCB has monitored the quality of Ganga water from its source that is from Gangotri to West Bengal. As per the CPCB, the water quality at its origin source is pure. At Gangotri, Rudraprayag, Devprayag and Rishikesh the BOD level is at 1 mg/l and DO level between 9 and 10 mg/l. The contamination and pollutants in the river increases as the river flow down forth. At Haridwar, which one of the popular religious sites for Hindus in India the water quality is inferior, the BOD level there stands at 6.6 mg/l.
Interestingly, the BOD level at Haridwar has decreased from 2013, which was 7.8 mg/l. However, there is a high level of water contamination at other religious sites like Varanasi, Allahabad. Also at Kannauj, Kanpur, Patna, Raj Mahal, Dakshineswar, Howrah and Darbhanga Ghat in Patna the water quality is bad. In PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi, the maximum BOD level in 2017 was 6.1 mg/l, higher than that in 2013. Similarly, in Allahabad, the BOD level was 4.4 mg/l in 2013 which has increased to 5.7 mg/l. In West Bengal also the BOD level of Ganga has gone up at Tribeni, Diamond Harbour and several other places. The 2017 report states that the pH level of Ganga water is above 8.5 in some areas, making it dangerous for irrigation too.
Govt’s Namami Gange program is a failure
The Modi government in 2015 had flagged its Namami Gange program. Launched by PM Modi himself, the Rs-20,000 crore Namami Gange Mission was initiated to achieve “the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation” of the Ganga, as reported by the National Herald.
The campaign launched by BJP included treatment of sewage from cities, treatment of industrial pollution, cleaning the river’s surface, rural sanitation, riverfront development, construction of river banks and cremation ghats, tree plantation and conservation of biodiversity.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in July this year, pulled up the government over the failing state of the river. NGT also demanded answers from the Centre on how have they utilised Rs 7,000 crore over two years that has reportedly gone into the river rejuvenation process.
According to The Wire’s RTI report, till now 221 projects have been sanctioned under the Namami project and an estimated Rs 22,238 has been spent on it. However, only 26 projects have been completed just so far. Of the 67 projects approved for riverfront development, construction of river banks and cleaning of ghats only 24 have been completed till now.
In May this year, the Union Minister for River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari, emphatically stated that the 70% of the dying river Ganga will clean by March 2019. While speaking at a program organized by India Today, he said, “This is my challenge. If it is not done, you can run a breaking news that I have failed.”
Namami Project helping corporate sector and business houses
Dr GD Agarwal, in a letter to PM, expressed his concerns about the Namami project. In the letter, he also stated that the project is just helping big corporate sectors and business houses and is not efficient for check the uninterrupted flow of Ganga.
According to Net India reports, Dr Rajendra Singh, known as the “Waterman of India”, has urged the Prime Minister to ensure immediate passage of the Ganga Protection and Management Bill and stop construction of dams along the river, which was one of the main demands of the Dr.Agrawal.
Additionally, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its 2017 report have also criticised the Namami project. The report questioning on the project said, “Even after six and a half years of the settlement with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the long-term work plans of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) could not be completed. It has been more than eight years since the formation of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, yet NMCG does not have a river basin management plan so far.”
The logical Indian Take
River Ganga, which is not just the national river of the country but is also among one of the widely spread rivers in the country. It flows through five states, and millions of people consume its water for both religious and domestic purposes. However, with reports like these, it only substantiates one of our biggest fears that the river water, considered holy by many is dangerous for consumption. As soon as the Modi government took charge, it promised to clean the river, but not much has been done so far. We urge the government to look into this urgent matter and do the needful as early as possible.