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Pollution in Ganga

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation


Source: DTE

 Context: According to the Ministry of Jal Shakti, though the Namami Gange Programme has been able to reduce the overall pollution load in the Ganga River, the river still remains polluted.


Namami Gange Programme:

  • It is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in 2014 with a budget outlay of Rs.20,000 Crore to accomplish the twin objectives of
    • Effective abatement of pollution,
    • Conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
  • Since 2014, the Centre had taken up 409 projects with a budget outlay of Rs 32,912.40 crore to clean up the river.


Pollution in the Ganga River:

  • At least 71% of the river’s monitoring stations reported alarming levels of faecal coliform in January 2023.
  • Faecal coliforms are a group of bacteria found in the gut and faeces of warm-blooded animals, which enters rivers through the discharge of untreated sewage.
  • While Uttarakhand had permissible levels of faecal coliform [less than 2,500 most probable number (MPN) per 100 ml], numbers in three other states – UP, Bihar and West Bengal – are alarming.


Why does river Ganga still remain polluted?

  • Untreated waste continues to be discharged in 60% of Ganga.
  • While the five major states through which the river flows generated 10,139.3 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage, they had a combined sewage treatment capacity of only 40%.
  • Uttarakhand is the only state with sufficient treatment capacity.


Wider challenges:

  • Higher biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) at the majority of the stations.
    • BOD is a measure of the oxygen required by aerobic microorganisms to biochemically oxidise organic matter. It affects the amount of dissolved oxygen in rivers.
    • The higher the BOD, the lesser the oxygen available to aquatic life.
  • Lax monitoring as the data collection and dissemination remains challenging.


Way ahead:

  • Treating industrial and chemical waste: Sewage treatment plants (STPs) are going to be the mainstay of river cleaning.
  • Waste to wealth: Identifying, developing and deploying technologies to treat waste to generate energy, recycle materials, and extract resources of value.


Insta Links:

‘Clean Ganga’ changes course to conservation, tourism, livelihood


Mains Links: 

The Namami Gange and National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) programmes and causes of mixed results from the previous schemes. What quantum leaps can help preserve the river Ganga better than incremental inputs? (UPSC 2015)


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2014)

Consider the following statements :

  1. Animal Welfare Board of India is established under the Environments (Protection) Act, 1986
  2. National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body
  3. National Ganga River Basin Authority is chaired by the Prime Minister

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 2 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


Ans: 2