The River Ganga is believed to be the longest
and one of the most sacred rivers in India. It
originates from the Gangotri glacier in the
Himalayas and empties into the Bay of Bengal in
eastern India. During its course it travels a
distance of about 2,525 km and covers around
8,61,404 sq km area of its basin. The river is
regarded as a goddess by the people. In spite of
its sacredness, the people of India have never
ever hesitated in polluting the river by their
reckless and selfish activities. Today, Ganga
pollution is one of the major issues that have
in certain ways affected our country, both
directly and indirectly.
Industrial effluents are the chief source of pollution in the Ganga. Several factories, such as leather, textile, rubber, plastic, etc. which have evolved along the banks of the river, discharge their poisonous effluents in the river water without treating them properly. The second major contributor of pollution of Ganga River is the untreated sewage discharged from drains of the cities into the river. According to a recent survey, around 1 billion litres of untreated, raw sewage are dumped in the river on a daily basis. If not checked immediately, this figure is going to increase by 100% in the coming 20 years.
The third major source of Ganga pollution is the dumping of carcasses of humans and animals into the river. Many of the human dead bodies that are cremated on the ghats of the river are immersed into the river with religious belief that their souls will have a direct path to heaven. Human excreta and washing of dirty things along the river banks have also immensely contributed to river pollution. Crowded fairs along the river banks are another reason for the contamination too. The bacterial count of the water sharply increases with the arrival of pilgrims during these fairs.
As per the recent studies conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board, it is estimated that there are six major points on the 2,525 km course of the river Ganga where the water gets polluted. Kanpur and Calcutta are the most heavily contaminated spots. Varanasi and Kannauj are somewhat lesser polluted spots. Allahabad and Patna are further less polluted spots. Studies by West Bengal Water Pollution Control Board have revealed that bacteria counts in the river water between Diamond Harbour and Uluberia in Howrah district are alarmingly high. At present chemical toxics and other bacteria found in the Ganga water are 3000 times above the safe limit prescribed by World Health Organization (WHO). The level of Coliform bacteria is around 2800 times more than the limit suggested by the WHO as safe.
Various measures have been introduced by the government to tackle Ganga pollution. Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in 1985 and Namami Ganga programme are two such initiatives. Besides these, the government has taken up the task of redevelopment of river ghats and setting up R&D projects and Waste and Disposal Treatment plants for cleaning the river water.
Ganga pollution, if not checked immediately can pose serious threat to our health and economy in the coming years. The task of purifying the water of our most important river not only lies with our government but also with us. The best way we can help the government in this work is by refraining from polluting the Ganga in any manner. Only intense public awareness can save Ganga pollution.