Skip to main content

Cost hurdle in Ganga clean up adds to "reduced" natural flow beyond Kanpur due to agricultural pressure: Report

Polluting coal-fired power plant along Ganga in West Bengal
Counterview Desk
A media study team, investigating pollution levels of Ganga three years after the Narendra Modi government came up with its Ganga Action Plan to clean up India's most revered river, has revealed that only 10 per cent of the sewage produced along the mainstream of the river, and collected over its 2,500 km stretch, is treated.
Quoting officials, a report by the investigation team insists that the focus on industry and sewerage treatment plants (STPs) has been "misguided", what has still not been addressed is a "deeper problem" -- the dwindling flow of Ganga. "Over 90 per cent of water is diverted for agriculture before the river reaches Kanpur about halfway through its journey, leaving it unable to flush out pollution or dilute the toxins", it says.
Quoting sources from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the investigation report says, from the glaciers of the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, the river collects toxic waste from half billion of people. However, it believes, cleaning up the waste faces a major cost hurdle.
The cost involved in "cleaning up" Ganga in West Bengal alone, the report says, is huge – just to build "the necessary sewerage plants would require an extra INR 13,467 crore (USD 2 billion) and another INR 100 crore (USD 15 million) a year for repairs – a money the state does not have."
"In the past, the central government funded all the costs of setting up and running effluent treatment plants along the Ganga. Now, under the National Mission for Clean Ganga, it has decided the cash strapped state governments will have to take over", the investigation says.
The report says, while "the iconic ghats of Varanasi and the toxic tanneries of Kanpur" have received considerable attention, what is little known is, "over 7 billion litres of raw sewerage are dumped into the Ganga every day from hundreds of towns along the river and its tributaries, and almost half comes from West Bengal."
Quoting Kalyan Rudra, chairman of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board and a hydrologist who has been tracking the state of the river for many years, the report says, "The state contributes 48% of wastewater produced in the Ganga basin and only treats 42% of this – leaving 1,779 MLD (million litres a day) of untreated waste flowing from the 54 drains throughout the state."
“Untreated sewerage is the biggest problem,” Rudra is quoted as saying, adding, "It accounts for about 85 per cent of the pollution in the river. The rest comes from industrial heavy metals, pesticides from agriculture, solid waste, human bodies and animal carcasses."
The report says, "At its worst in West Bengal, the river contains 160,000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml, a clear sign of human excreta (the World Health Organisation puts the safe limit at 1,000 per 100 ml). The problem is more widespread."
The problem remains intact even after West Bengal closing down "95 heavily polluting industries, along with the 94 shut down in Uttar Pradesh", the report says, adding, "Travelling up the Bhagirathi-Hooghly from Kolkata, a series of illegal cottage industries amid banana plantations, dirty brick kilns and coal-fired power stations can be seen pumping out waste into the river."

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Govt of India seeks to 'subvert' autonomy of adjudicating authorities: RTI amendment

Counterview Desk
India's independent Right to Information watchdog, The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a statement, has said that the Government of India’s proposed amendments to the RTI Act to empower the Centre to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners at the Centre and States “seriously undermine” the law.