Ganga River | গঙ্গা নদিGanga (Ben: গঙ্গা), the National River of India (Ben: ভারতীয় প্রজাতন্ত্রের জাতীয় নদী) originates from the Gangotri glacier of the Himalayas(Ben: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 (Ben: 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 (Ben: ভারত) and Bangladesh(Ben: বাংলাদেশ).
Ganga River at its BEST ! Diamond Harbor,KolkataEven after being the National river of India, 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 (Ben: ফারাক্কা বাঁধ) into Bangladesh and is known as Padma (Ben: পদ্দা); this massive barrier diverts the water of the Ganga into the Hoogly(Ben: হুগলী) branch which flows through Indian Bengal(Ben: ভারতীয় বঙ্গ).
Ganga in Indian Bengal
Ganga River in KolkataThe 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:
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.
- 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
vThe 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 .v Immersion of Idols has also threatened the survival of the Gangetic Dolphin and other aquatic creatures.
- 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.
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!
- Dumping of sewage and industrial effluents should be completely banned and strictly implemented. Sewage treatment plants (STP’s) are must along the river bank.
- 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???
- Use of Bio-gas/Electrical crematoriums should be promoted and cremating in open air and on the banks of the river should be avoided.
- 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.
River Ganga (Padma) dried up & reduced to a 6ft
wide shallow stream during summer season in Rajshahi,
Farraka Barrage effect !
It is said that “The character of a city is best judged by how well it maintains its sea or river front.”
A stabilized river bank near Diamond Harbor,Kolkata.
But,Still the port remains unnavigable for Large Ships due to silting.
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, not only India but also Bangladesh 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.