Ganga Polluted

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A GOVERNMENT audit of the GAP for the period 1993-2000 says: “The GAP has met only 39 percent of its primary target of sewage treatment. There were heavy shortfalls in the achievement of the target set for creation of assets and facilities under the plan. Even the achievements made were poor indicators of the extent of the success of the GAP, as most of them had not functioned either fully or partially for varied reasons.” So where did the government go wrong?

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‘KANPUR’S first common effluent treatment plant, commissioned in 1994, can treat only 9 mld, whereas the tannery effluent discharge is 40 mld. Again, chrome liquor that contains the carcinogenic chromium, also ends up untreated in the river’
Rakesh Jaiswal Environmental Activist

 

BD Tripathi‘A LITTLE more imagination was required. Flesheating turtles were released in Varanasi, but there was no effort to ensure that they survived. As a result, most of the turtles were poached by fishermen or killed’
BD Tripathi Member, NGRBA

 

‘TODAY, you may not find the Gangetic dolphin, which is the national aquatic animal, in the river anymore. Even Bengal’s favourite fish, the Hilsa, is hardly found in the Hooghly’
Kalyan Rudra Adviser to the West Bengal Government on Environmental Affairs

 

‘I AM not saying that water should not be diverted for irrigation, it should be, but then we should divert only the required quantity of water’
RK Sinha Member, NGRBA

 

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Experts believe that it is a classic case of official apathy and complete lack of vision and planning, which ensured that despite spending thousands of crores, the Ganga became more polluted. Calling the GAP a failure, Tripathi says that the government has frittered away crores of rupees on ill-designed and badly maintained wastewater treatment plants. “There was no proper planning,” he claims. “In 1998, when the matter came up in the Allahabad High Court, officers were asked if a quality analysis of the places where the STPs were installed, was done. The answer was a no.” Tripathi says the first phase of the GAP was implemented in a hurry due to political considerations.

Sewage was identified as the root cause of all evil and STPs were set up at important places, as the officers thought that these STPs would clean the whole river. However, after the first survey, they were shocked to find out that the pollution had risen instead of going down. “The reason was because they failed to take the industrial waste into account,” says Tripathi. “There was absolutely no coordination between the Centre, state and local bodies.”

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