Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi has vowed to clean the country's sacred river Ganga, which he referred to as 'Ma Ganga' during his visit to Varanasi on Saturday noon. However, the big question remains about how Modi or his government will ensure cleanliness of the river which receives 3,000 million litre of sewerage daily - right from Uttarakhand to West Bengal.
BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi greets supporters at a road show before filing his nomination papers in Varanasi. (PTI photo)
According to the estimates of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), only 1,000 million litre sewerage is treated daily against 3,000 million litre that that goes into the main Ganga water. Moreover, 12,000 million litre sewerage goes into the Ganga river basin daily and only 4,000 million is treated.
Ganga originates from Gaumukh in Uttarakhand and travels 2,525km till Bay of Bengal. In fact, the number of human settlements, hotels and industries located along the river play a big role in polluting Ganga.
Taking notice of the depleting condition of river, the Uttarakhand high court had asked the state government to clean encroachments from 200 metres periphery of the river in the state. The hundreds of hotels, ashrams and yoga centres erected near Ganga in the twin cities of Rishikesh-Haridwar give a true picture. The sewerage generated in these two cities from several commercial and non-commercial establishments could be seen directly flowing into the river.
Nonetheless, the erstwhile BJP government in Uttarakhand headed by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had launched 'Sparsh Ganga' campaign to clean the river in the state's map. However the campaign could not pick much after he was replaced. Now Nishank has been elected as an MP from Haridwar.
"Modiji has shown deep concern for River Ganga. I will also work in this direction to ensure cleanliness of the ancient river," Nishank told HT on Sunday.
NGBRA data suggests that Ganga river basin cover 43% population in the 11 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Haryana. Quoting 2001 census figures, it further says that population growth for nearly 32% in the cities like Varanasi, Patna, Kanpur and Meerut are a big concern. The industrial expansion in the Ganga basin is a trouble area that needs immediate attention.
"The industrial pockets in the catchments of Ramganga, Kali rivers and Kanpur city are significant source of industrial pollution," reads the NGRBA findings.
The NGRBA is currently working on 57 project of sewerage treatment plant with combined capacity to treat 470.53 million litre of sewerage in a day. About 15 projects are alone undergoing in Uttarakhand, seven in Uttar Pradesh, five in Bihar and 27 in West Bengal. Besides, three projects of central pollution control board are also under construction.