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| Last Updated:11/09/2014

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A clean-up under scrutiny

The Hindu, 10 September 2014


It is not surprising that the Supreme Court has taken a dim view of the Central government’s long-running plan to clean the Ganga. More than 28 years after the government launched the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in 1985, nothing seems to have worked. In 2013, estimates by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said that from Gangotri to Diamond Harbour faecal coliform levels were above acceptable levels on all stretches of the river, except for the upper reaches. Uttar Pradesh, which has a 1,000-km stretch of the river, has over 600 highly polluting industrial units. Of these, 442 are tanneries with toxic discharge, most of them violating pollution norms. An interim report of the Ganga River Basin Management Plan prepared by a consortium of seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) said attempts to keep the river clean through conventional pollution control methods have proved ineffective. Now, the new BJP-led government is planning to restore the “wholesomeness” of the Ganga, which was declared India’s national river in 2008. The National Ganga River Basin Authority has gone into mission mode to identify critical focus areas, and ensuring the continuous flow of the river is the main aim. Dams and barrages have snapped its longitudinal connectivity and crippled it, the IIT report said. The report pointed out that human activity including industrialisation, urbanisation and deforestation, and a complete lack of provision along the river for waste water disposal, have reduced the Ganga to its current condition. The quality of water in the river, once famed for its purity, is abysmal now. And one of the key areas which need attention is ecological restoration. Read more....