Policy | VOL. 9, ISSUE 53, March-April 2009

Constituting A National Ganga River Basin Authority

The Ganga Basin is the largest in the country, housing more than 40 per cent of India’s population. During the course of its journey of 2525 muddy kms from the pristine hills to the turbid seas, it is constantly and unthinkingly polluted with municipal and industrial effluents apart from toxic pesticides from the agricultural fields, not to mention open defecation, cattle wallowing, carcass dumping, etc. Dotting Ganga’s banks are over 30 large cities with populations well over a lakh and nearly 80 Class II and III cities with significantly high populace. Ganga, revered yet abused, is treacherously polluted, assuming perhaps that it would somehow remain unscathed. A cleaning programme, the Ganga Action Plan was launched in June 1985 to address the humongous problem, but it fell short of expectations as its implementation was piecemeal and focussed more on municipal sewage. Since then the challenges of unabated pollution too have risen with marked growth in industrialisation and urbanisation - leading to an unrelenting discharge of untreated wastewater into the river. The problem is compounded by inadequate flows - further exacerbated by deforestation in the catchment area with compounded soil erosion leading to river bed siltation and flooding. Also there are major apprehensions from large scale hydro electric projects coming up in the upper reaches of the river. The threat of global climate change and the effect of...

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