Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Save Ganga



Ganga River | গঙ্গা নদি
Ganga (Bangla: গঙ্গা), the National River of India (Bangla: ভারতীয় প্রজাতন্ত্রের জাতীয় নদী) originates from the Gangotri glacier of the Himalayas (Bangla:হিমালয়ের গঙ্গোত্রী হিমবাহ) in Uttarakhand, India, down the mountains, and across the one of the world’s densely populated plains to the Bay of Bengal (Bangla: বঙ্গপ মহাসাগর), the Ganges River is one of the world’s greatest rivers supporting millions of people with water and fertile soil for agriculture in India (Bangla: ভারত) and Bangladesh (Bangla: বাংলাদেশ).

Ganga River at its BEST ! Diamond Harbor
Even after being the National river of India and one of the most important river of Bangladesh, Ganga River is one of the dirtiest rivers in the world and on the verge of extinction. The river starts getting polluted as soon as it enters the densely populated Gangetic plains. The main branch of the Ganga passes through the Farraka Barrage (Bangla: ফারাক্কা বাঁধ) into Bangladesh and is known as Padma (Bangla: পদ্দা); this massive barrier diverts the water of the Ganga into the Hoogly (Bangla: হুগলী) branch which flows through Indian Bengal / West Bengal (Bangla: ভারতীয় বঙ্গ / পশ্চিমবঙ্গ).


Ganga in Indian Bengal

The Ganga River’s water which reaches Bengal has already been polluted during its flow through the northern states of India and it gets further polluted in Bengal before opening up into the Bay of Bengal.

I. The Factors Polluting Ganga:
  • Industrial Effluents
    • Polluted waste water flows into the Ganges river
    • The branch of Ganga River has numerous paper, pulp, jute and other industries lined along its banks. These industries discharge effluent into the river. This hazardous waste includes dark brown, oxygen-craving slurry of bark and wood fiber, hydrochloric acid, mercury and other heavy metals, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls highly toxic compounds which accumulate in fish tissues, and chemical toxins like bleaches and dyes, which produce dioxin and other persistent compounds.
  • Sewage Discharge
    • One of the primary causes of pollution i.e. domestic sewage from cities and towns, treated or untreated should not be discharged into the Ganges.
    • Today Conservative estimates put the sewage flowing into Ganga at approximately 1 billion litres per day, of mostly untreated raw sewage.
    • Due to this, Fecal coliform measurements of the river have been recorded as high as 6,000 times the safe level for humans. (Fecal coliform is a bacterium found in the intestinal system of warm-blooded animals; their presence in large numbers indicates pollution by sewage contamination.)
  • Religion Vs Ganga’s Water Pollution
    • Immersion of Idols in Ganga | গঙ্গাএ মূর্তি  বিসর্জন
      • The annual ritual of immersion of Idols of Hindu deities like Durga during Durga Puja (দুর্গা পুজো), which is the main festival of Indian Bengal and several others idols during the course of the year, increases the pollution in the already polluted river, and also causes the deposition of silt .
      • Immersion of Idols has also threatened the survival of the Gangetic Dolphin and other aquatic creatures.
  
Immersion of Idols in Ganga | গঙ্গায় মূর্তি বিসর্জন

    • Humans ritually bathe themselves in the waters adding to the pollution.  [Maximum in Varanasi (বেনারস) approx 60,000 devotees ritually bathe every morning!]
    • The Sacred practice of depositing human remains, scattering of the ashes after cremation in the Ganga also poses serious threat to the ecosystem because of the dumping of partially cremated corpses, and there are people who can't afford to cremate their loved ones - so they simply throw the dead body directly into the river.
    • Hundreds of corpses burn on the wooden pyres on the bank of the river, then at times these still-glowing ashes, garlands etc are swept into the river.
    • In addition to this, the dead bodies and remains of several animals which are sacred to the Hindus are also dumped in the Ganges.
    • People come to the banks and throw away bags full of “Pooja Flowers” into the river, making the river a “Sewage Canal”!
    • Then these ashes, mixed with flowers/garlands, polythene bags, empty cans and foam resurfaces and floats atop the waves.
  • Irrigation & Agriculture
    • Agricultural runoffs  in the Ganga basin, which is mixed with chemical fertilizers, harmful pesticides like DDT (BANNED IN UNITED STATES) etc directly into the river causing threat to the aquatic creatures and contaminating the underground water.
    • Captivating the river water by creation of Dams or diverting the river water, mainly for irrigation purposes also causes pollution.
  • Pollution, directly by citizens :
People washing clothes & bathing at Dakhineshwar ghat
    • Washing of Clothes & Bathing of cattle:-Thousands of people wash clothes, with detergents etc directly on the river banks adding to the pollution. Apart from humans bathing, you can also see people bathe their cattle in the river!
    • Its not an uncommon sight to see a passerby jus throwing a Polythene Bag full of Garbage into the River.
All the above mentioned factors as well as deforestation, unplanned urbanization as well as several other factors have rendered the water of Ganga unfit for bathing or drinking!

II. Effects of Pollution in Ganga

  • People are facing health problems and diseases like:
    • Typhoid
    • E-coli
    • Tuberculosis
    • Gastrointestinal bleeding and other water borne diseases.
  •  They are getting infected by:
    • Bathing
    • Drinking
    • Cooking
    • Washing clothes and due to staying in direct contact wit the polluted river water.
  • Contamination of the Underground Water- due to presence of chemical fertilizers, harmful pesticides and other toxins in the river water. Presence of high levels of Arsenic has been detected in the ground water in several areas along the Ganga basin.
  • The Gangetic Dolphin, with an approximate population of 2000 has become an endangered species.
  • The fishes in the Ganga River are striving hard for survival; toxins are entering their tissues which are then consumed by humans and thus, indirectly the toxins are entering our bodies.

River Ganga (Padma) dried up & reduced to a 6ft
wide shallow stream during summer season in Rajshahi,
Bangladesh.
Farraka Barrage effect !
[Picture by: Donald Katz http://donnybangla.blogspot.com]

A stabilized river bank near Diamond Harbor,Kolkata.
But,Still the port remains unnavigable for Large Ships due to silting.



III. What can be done to SAVE Ganga?

  • The First and foremost thing is Awareness among the people about the ill effects of polluting the Ganga!
    • General public should refrain from :-
      • Bathing,
      • Washing clothes,
      • Cleaning vehicles,
      • Open defecation (Shitting) in the river banks!
      • Throwing garbage, polythene bags, pooja flowers in the Ganga.
  • Dumping of sewage and industrial effluents should be completely banned and strictly implemented. Sewage treatment plants (STP’s) are must along the river bank.
    • Sewage treatment through the Pond system [Advanced integrated wastewater oxidization pond system] should be preferred over the electricity- dependent method.
  • Improvisation of Solid Waste Management System required for preventing dumping of solid wastes in the river.
  • Artificial Water-bodies (Tanks) should be constructed for immersion of idols, else a day will come when there will be absolutely no water in the Ganga! Then where will they immerse idols???
    • The Kolkata High Court on October 5, 2010 directed that the guideline framed by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) will have to be followed for cleaning up the river Ganga after immersion of idols. The court also said that it was the duty of Kolkata Port Trust (KPT) and concerned municipalities to clean the river after idols immersion.
    • কলকাতা হাইকোর্ট এবং দূষণ নিয়ন্ত্রণ পরিষদের নির্দেশিকা অনুযায়ী পুজোর ফুল, চালচিত্র, ঘট ইত্যাদি এবার গঙ্গায় বিসর্জন দেওয়া যাবে না। ঘাটের পাশেই তৈরি হয়েছে আলাদা ভ্যাট, সেখানেই ফেলে দিতে হবে পুজোর উপাচার। গঙ্গাদূষণ রোধে পুরসভা চেষ্টা করবে বিসর্জনের ২৪ ঘন্টার মধ্যে জল থেকে কাঠামোগুলি তুলে ফেলা যায়But this is not going to serve any good! We have to consider other alternatives and strictly stop immersing idols in Ganga!
    • This is a very sensitive issue and people should try to understand it logically, the ill effects of immersing idols in the Ganga.
  • Use of Bio-gas/Electrical crematoriums should be promoted and cremating in open air and on the banks of the river should be avoided.
 
Left: An improvised river bank in Europe, with green pasture and a walkway.
Right: Ganga river bank in pathetic condition. 

  • River banks should be improvised to reduce erosion by construction of Levee and Revetments.
  • Afforestation, by creating avenues/green pastures along the river banks.
  • The use of highly dangerous and non-biodegradable chemical fertilizers and pesticides like DDT etc should be strictly banned. Use of bio-fertilizers should be promoted.
It is said that “The character of a city is best judged by how well it maintains its sea or river front.”


One of the Cleanest patches of the Ganga River.
Our national river, Ganga is dying. What will happen when the river begins to dry up? If Ganga becomes a stream of sewage and toxins, Bangladesh along with India will suffer, as Ganga will no longer be able to support neither the economy nor the people of the two nations. If we do not succeed in a determined effort to save Ganga, we are risking the right of our future generations to a healthy, life-enhancing environment.


6 comments:

  1. I wrote a paper on the same topic for a conference at Bali, Indinesia.Some of the aspects are very similar to this article. It is unpublished. It will publish soon.Photos are very nice. Thank you.
    Tava jalamamalam yena nipitam paramapadam khalu tena grihitam /
    Matargange tvayi yo bhaktah kila tam drashtum nayamah saktah //

    He who drinks thy water, O Mother Ganga, will verily attain the highest abode(of the Lord). Yama, the god of death, dare not even look at one who is thy devotee.

    May the Mother Ganga bless us all!

    ReplyDelete
  2. @ Reeta : Thanks a lot for your valuable comment. Its good to know about your Paper Presentation about the same topic.
    Regarding photos, all Photos are not clicked by me :-) Sincere thanks to my friend Dipayan Dasgupta & Donald Katz [http://donnybangla.blogspot.com] for giving me permission to use his Photos.

    I hope , Our people will eventually understand the effects of pollution to the Ganga river and act wisely and Unite to Clean Ganga.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The 35-year-old 'Save the Ganga' crusader, a seer at Haridwar's Matri Sadan Ashram, had been on a fast since February 19. On April 27, officials shifted him to Haridwar district hospital as his condition deteriorated Read more...

    Link: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-06-15/india/29661050_1_mining-lobby-crusher-poisoning

    ReplyDelete
  4. i want to visit the subcontinent to see the Ganges

    ReplyDelete
  5. Save Ganga, save our future generations. 

    ReplyDelete