The Lost River July 26, 2014
The Ganga is dying from toxic waste dumped into it
The Ganga’s course is approximately 2,525km. Total annual flow of the river is 525 BCM (billion cubic metres). 90-95 percent of this flow is abstracted for irrigation and related uses. The Ganga basin is inhabited by 37 per cent of India’s population. About 47 per cent of the total irrigated area in India is located in the Ganga basin alone. The urban population in Ganga basin states is 122 million. Of 692 Ganga basin towns, 100 are situated on the river. 2.9 billion litres of raw sewage is dumped into the Ganga every day. Ganga basin towns generate 109.357 MTA (million tonnes per annum of industrial waste.)
GANGOTRI: Immaculate Conception, River rises from the pristine glacial melt of the Gangotri Glacier at Gaumukh. Water quality is compliant with international standards.
RUDRAPRAYAG: First Signs, Confluence of Ganga tributaries Mandakini and Alaknanda. Faecal coliform bacteria in water attributed to local hill population and pilgrims, is already above acceptable levels and increasing.
HARIDWAR: Getting Murky, River enters indo-Gangetic Plain. Water bears raw, untreated sewage from 12 upstream towns. More than 90MLD (million litres per day) is dumped into the Ganga. Includes sewage generated by 1.5 million pilgrims during the Char Dham Yatra every summer.
KANNAUJ: Depleted and Dirtier, Deprived of nearly 95 per cent of its flow between Haridwar and Narora. Ganga is reduced to a mere rivulet and burdened with further pollution. With unacceptably high BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand, a pollution measure)and rising levels of faecal coliform, water is even unfit for bathing.
KANPUR: Malignant Muddle, 500 MLD sewage generated. 40-50 MLD of effluents from more than 400 leather tanneries. More than 300 MLD of raw sewage and 30-40 MLD of effluents dumped in the Ganga. Faecal coliform counts of 250,000 to 500,000 MPN (most probable number( per 100 ml recorded in river water.
ALLAHABAD: The Confluence, Ganga merges with the Yamuna. Dilution of Ganga water brings down faecal coliform but at 10,000 MPN/100ml, it is still highly polluted. City dumps more than 130 MLD of sewage into the river.
VARANASI: Gateway to God, City generates more than 400 MLD of sewage. 700 tonnes of ash; 3,250 partially or unburnt bodies; 6,000 animal carcasses dumped in river. In May 2014, faecal coliform count ranged between 10,000 to more than 1 million MPN/100ml.
PATNA: Spreading Poison, Municipal waste generated-280 MLD. Treatment capacity-109 MLD. Treatment capacity 109 MLD. Faecal coliform count between 30,000 and 50,000 MPN/100ml.
KOLKATA: Choked at the Mouth, 705 MLD sewage generated. Treatment capacity for just 172 MLD. At Kalighat the Ganga (Hooghly) is reduced to a putrid sewer.
“Doosre shaharon mein log zindagi dhoondhe jaate hain….magar Banaras mein to marne aate hain (People travel to cities in search of life… in Banaras (Varanasi), they come to die).” K.K. Mani, a keralite by descent but raised in Varanasi, has witnessed over 10,000 cremations of friends or relatives, and of scores of anonymous soul seeking Moksha (emancipation) in Hinduism’s holiest address.
Funeral rites and cremations may not be the biggest source of contamination in the river but they are the most visible. A 2012 study commissioned by the Banras Hindu University’s (BHU) Centre for Environmental Science and Technology (CEST) counted 33,000 cremations over 12 months using more than 16,000 tonnes of firewood. CEST estimates that more than 700 tonnes of ash and partially burnt skeletal material found its way into the Ganga. Add to this 3,250 human cadavers and over 6,000 animal carcasses recorded along a 10km stretch of the river as it flows past the city. The numbers grow with each passing year.
Who is responsible for this mess of our “Holy River” we the people of India