What quantum leaps can help preserve the river Ganga better than incremental inputs?

Civil Services Main Examination

General Studies (Paper - 3) : Model Question & Answers


http://www.iasplanner.com/civilservices/images/Krishna-Water-Disputes.jpgQuestion: Discuss the Namami Gange and National Mission for 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 Main 2015)

Rejuvenating and Cleaning the Ganga


  • Ganga basin is considered as the world’s populous river basin and is home for more than 600 million urban rural Indian populations.

  • With that the incidence of deep and multifaceted poverty is high in the basin and the water and sanitation infrastructure is either absent or unsatisfactory.

  • The Ganga basin generates approximately 40 percent of the country’s GDP and is a valuable environmental and economic resource for India.

  • The water quality challenges vary across the course of the river. It changes from Gangotri to Rishikesh, from Rishikesh to Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna and Farakkaand in the pars of the Sunder bans.

Main causes of Gangetic pollution


Municipal/ solid waste: The main stream of the Ganges passes through 36 Class I cities and 14 Class II cities.According to Central Pollution Control Board, these Class I and II cities generate more than 2.7 billion litre of sewage every day.

Open defecation: The Ganges basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal have a very poor sanitation infrastructure.About 45-53 percent of the urban household use septic tanks and there are no plans and mechanisms for septic management. Open defecation is practiced by 25 percent of the population.

Religious offerings: This sacred river is surrounded with traditions and mythologies. Offering of various kinds of materials daily to the river by millions of devotees amount to several tons of toxic materials contaminating and choking river. The river also finds the ultimate disposal place for unclaimed dead bodies and other half or fully burned dead bodies which decay and pollute river.

Industrial waste: The large urban centre are also the industrial hubs for the highly polluting large and small chemical, distillery, food and diary, pulp and paper, sugar, textile and dyeing and tannery industry. All these industries consume, pollute and discharge large amounts of waste water into river which pose a major threat to the riverine aquatic life.

Agriculture: Though the pollution from agricultural fields is not as severe as municipal and industrial pollution , yet in certain stretches of intensive agriculture close to the river banks and in basin can be hazardous especially the residues from insecticides.

Past efforts to clean Ganga


Ganga Action Plan 1985- GAP I

  • The main focus of the plan was on interception, diversion and treatment of sewage generated from these 25Class I cities of Uttar Pradesh.

  • The plan continued for several years without achieving any improvement in river water quality.

Ganga Action Plan II 1993- GAP II


  • It is still under progrecss in five states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

  • Through the provision of GAP I and GAP II, interception, diversion and treatment of sewage of more than 37 cities were established.

  • The plan also identified grossly polluting industries and made obligatory to install the effluent treatment plants.

  • These efforts made a beginning and were able to highlight the magnitude of problem of pollution in the Ganges, it had several constrains and limitations.

Present and future plans and innovation


Establishment of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).

  • The area of operation of NMCG shall be the Ganga River Basin, including the states through which Ganga flows, as well as the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

  • The aims and objectives of NMCG is to accomplish the mandate of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) of

    • To ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral co-ordination for comprehensive planning and management.

    • To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.

The World Bank will support the Government of India by providing technical and financial assistance.Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)is supporting one project on Ganga in Varanasi.Several foreign governments and institutions like IWMI, Thames Authority, Murray- Darling Authority have also been requested to provide the support.

Namami Gange


This programme is much comprehensive and includes the treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio remediation, use of innovativetechnologies, additional STPs, installation of new industrial effluent treatment and retro fitting of all the existing plants to make these functional and operate at full capacity.

Ganga River Basin Management Plan

  • Consortiums of seven IITs have developed a comprehensive Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP).

  • The proposed plan makes suggestion and recommendations in the form of eight mission:

    • To ensure zero discharge policy for all the polluting industries.

    • AviralDhara– continuous uninterrupted

    • NirmalDhara- un polluted clean flow

    • Ecological restoration

    • Sustainable agriculture

    • Geological safeguarding

    • Basin protection against disaster

    • River hazard management and environmental knowledge- building and sensations.

Conclusion: Specific anthropogenic activities that should be prohibited, restricted, or promoted in NRGB have been identified in GRBEMP. Their implementation and future development would require the coordinated efforts and cooperation of government and non-government institutions, key stakeholders, and civil society. There should be a proper implementation, monitoring, review, and evaluation of environmental problems and pertinent interventions on a long-term basis. These components with good synergy with the cherished objectives of securing clean and continuous flow in the Ganges will restore the old glory.


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