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Pollution in Ganga; Challenges and Solutions

Ganga river pollution

Context: Government reported a reduction in Ganga river pollution due to the Namami Gange Programme. Since 2014, 409 projects with a budget of Rs 32,912.40 crore were initiated for river cleanup.

About Namami Gange Mission: ‘Namami Gange Programme’, is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 with budget outlay of Rs.20,000 Crore to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.

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Alarming Pollution Levels:

  1. 71% of Ganga’s monitoring stations showed high faecal coliform levels in January 2023.
  2. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) tested only 61% of the river, indicating contamination is likely higher.
  3. Faecal coliforms in the water indicate sewage contamination from humans and animals.

What are Fecal Coliform Bacteria?

Coliform bacteria are a collection of relatively harmless microorganisms that live in large numbers in the intestines of humans and warm- and cold-blooded animals. They aid in the digestion of foodColiform bacteria will not likely cause illness. However, their presence in drinking water indicates that disease-causing organisms (pathogens) could be in the water system. Most pathogens that can contaminate water supplies come from the feces of humans or animals. If coliform bacteria are in a water sample, water system operators work to find the source of contamination and restore safe drinking water. There are three different groups of coliform bacteria; each has a different level of risk.

The fecal coliform group includes all of the rod-shaped bacteria that are non-spore forming, Gram-Negative, lactose-fermenting in 24 hours at 44.5 °C, and which can grow with or without oxygen. 

Ganga river pollution

Regional Pollution Status:

  1. Uttarakhand had acceptable faecal coliform levels, but other states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal) faced alarming contamination.
  2. Data from the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed high pollution levels in many stations.
  3. Some stations show consistent high faecal coliform in 2022. But were not monitored in January 2023.

Sewage Treatment Capacity:

  1. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) found that 60% of Ganga still receives untreated waste.
  2. Major states along the Ganga generated more sewage than they could treat.
  3. Uttar Pradesh reported that many drains ending in the Ganga had no treatment capacity.

Wider Environmental Challenges:

  1. CPCB monitored five parameters, including faecal coliform. In 2022, two parameters met permissible levels.
  2. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) levels were consistently high in 2022, affecting aquatic life.
  3. Data collection and dissemination issues persist, with incomplete or outdated information available to the public.

Monitoring and Guidelines:

  1. The monitoring system needs improvement, and only 97 of the required 134 stations are currently being monitor.
  2. Existing guidelines recommend monitoring 25 parameters for perennial rivers but were partially implemented, limiting a comprehensive understanding of river health.

Read Also: Ganga Prahari

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