Water in the Ganga is not even fit for bathing at some of the holiest Hindu sites where pilgrims go to wash away their sins and scatter the ashes of their loved ones, junior minister for water resources Vijay Goel told Parliament Monday.
The stretches too polluted to take a dip include Haridwar , Garhmukteshwar, Kannauj and Allahabad districts.
The entire river stretch from Baharampore to Diamond Harbour in West Bengal also does not meet the water quality standards for bathing.
India’s water standard norms define classes of water quality, depending on how best the water can be utilised.
These include drinking water at source (without conventional treatment but after disinfection); outdoor bathing; drinking water source after conventional treatment and disinfection; fit for propagation of wildlife and fisheries; and irrigation.
“The annual variation does not indicate any sustained improvement or degradation in water quality,” Goel said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha.
“There is a fluctuation in the water quality parameters over the years,” he said, highlighting select indicators which have shown improvement, but which may still not meet the norms.
There are 144 drains that deposit wastewater into the Ganga. The Central Pollution Control Board carried out surprise inspections covering 285 industries last year and found that 85 units did not comply with standards. The demand to clean the river, which is considered sacred by Hindus, was one of the issues that helped Modi swing a victory from Varanasi.
Among the first programmes he launched as Prime Minister in 2014 was the Rs 20,000 crore Namami Gange Programme, with a target to improve the river water quality on all parameters by the end of 2020.