Few years ago, I got chance to cross river Ganga in a boat nearby Patna. The water appeared dark grey and even had an unpleasant smell near the banks. People were taking “holy dip” into the river to wash their sins like other millions who do the same every day. But it seems that even those who take dip into the river and feel pure and clean are themselves not doing anything to make it clean.
The river is 2525 km long, originating from Gangotri, where its water is pure, transparent and clean, and finally, falls into the Bay of Bengal with dark grey coloured and polluted water. Nowadays the pollution level is so high that after ascending from Gangotri ganga reaches Haridwar as clean but river water becomes unfit even for bathing.
It shows that the people, on one hand, consider it as holy and spiritual at the same time on another hand are responsible for its pollution. The river has worst condition near the Kanpur because there are 800 plus leather factories functional in the Kanpur discharge their waste in the river. Apart from this big city like Haridwar, Patna, Allahabad, Kanpur there are many small cities which skip our notice. These cities also have a good share in polluting the river. We can understand how severe the condition is as according to WWF, Ganga is one of the 10 rivers in the world which are on the verge of extinction. Ganga is choking to death.
It is not that the government has not acted. Ganga Action Plan was launched in two phased manner by then PM Rajiv Gandhi. Phase 1 was launched in 1985 and it covered 25 Ganga towns in 3 states. Phase 2 covered 59 towns in five states. In UPA govt National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) was formed. This authority over 45 towns were covered in 5 states. In 2014, the Modi govt approved the Namami Ganga Program with a budget outlay of 20,000 crores to accomplish the twin objective of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of national river ganga. Later in October 2016 National Mission for ganga (NMCG) which was set up. All these schemes are unable to meet the goal of cleaning river. Because govt setup sewerage treatment plants but either they are not work and are deficient in amount be as every day million gallon of sewage water are dumped in river flow their dirty water, chemicals, waste directly in the Ganga. But still, the plans have not done what they had promised of.
River Ganga is the lifeline of almost 40% of Indian population. In its journey, Ganga provides many direct economic benefit and spiritual values. Not only this but river is also the shelter of many water animals, worth mentioning is the ganga dolphin, the national water animal. Apart from it river also regulates climate and plays an important role as the backbone of the economy in the region. It’s the time to really think over this issue seriously without any time lag inspite of blaming the govt and other institutions for polluting Ganga we should think of our own responsibility. Simply not throwing garbage or left over in the river and pressing our local administration for water treatment plants can make a big change. We have started movements against something now the time is to start a movement for rivers, especially Ganga.