You are on page 1of 14





Rizvi complex, off. Carter road, Bandra, Mumbai-400050





---------------- -------------------- -----------------

Ms. Rupali Thorat Prof. Nargis Shaikh Dr. Varsha Shah
EVS In charge Head of Department Principal

The river Ganga has been known for its purity and divinity since times
immemorial. People worship the river and they say, that after bathing in
that river , the person is devoid of all his sins.
But off late, river Ganga has been in the news for all wrong reasons.
The main cause of it being the enormous pollution that has been caused
owing to the industrial and human activities that have been thaking place
in the vicinity of the river. This project is meant as an eye-opener for a
certain section of public, who seem to take pride in destroying the national
heritage of the country: the river GANGA

Before I begin enlightening our readers, you that is, I express a sincere
vote of thanks to our E.V.S teacher, whose insight into the matter helped
me a lot while I was working on this project. It was her timely help and
wise suggestions, without which this document would not have been
possible. Her teachings and overall knowledge about the environment and
related issues are the foundation pillars for this project.

1 Pollution

2 Ganga Action Plan

3 Report
4 References
5 External links
An estimated 2,000,000 people ritually bathe daily in the river, which is
considered holy by the Hindus. In the Hindu religion it is said to flow from the
lotus feet of Vishnu (forVaisnava devotees) or the hair of Shiva (for Saivites).
The spiritual and religious significance could be compared to what the Nile
river meant to the ancient Egyptians. While the Ganges may be considered holy,
there are some problems associated with the ecology. It is filled with chemical
wastes, sewage and even the remains of human and animal corpses which carry
major health risks by either direct bathing in the dirty water
(e.g.: Bilharziasis infection), or by drinking (the Fecal-oral route).
The combination of bacteriophages and large populations of people bathing in
the river have apparently produced a self-purification effect, in which water-
bourne bacteria such as dysentery and cholera are killed off, preventing large-
scale epidemics. The river also has an unusual ability to retain dissolved

Studies in 1981 reaveled that Upstream from Varanasi, one of the major
pilgrimage sites along the river, the water had a low Biochemical oxygen
demand and fecal coliform count. Studies conducted in 1983 on water samples
taken from the right bank of the Ganga at Patna confirm that escherichia
coli (E.Coli.), fecal streptococci and vibrio cholerae organisms die two to three
times faster in the Ganga than in water taken from the rivers Son and Gandak
and from dug wells and tube wells in the same area.[2]
However recently[when?] it has been identified as one of the most polluted
rivers in the world. As per the UECPCB study, while the level of coliform
present in water should be below 50 for drinking purposes, less than 500 for
bathing and below 5000 for agricultural use—the present level of coliform in
Ganga at Haridwar has reached 5500.
Based on the level of coliform, dissolved oxygen and biochemical oxygen, the
study put the water in A, B, C and D categories. While A category is considered
fit for drinking, B for bathing, C for agriculture and D is for excessive pollution
Since the Ganga waters at Haridwar have more than 5000 coliform and even the
level of dissolved oxygen and biochemical oxygen doesn't conform the
prescribed standards, it has been put in the D category.
According to the study, the main cause of high level of coliform in Ganga is due
to disposal of human faeces, urine and sewage directly into the river from its
starting point in Gaumukh till it reaches Haridwar via Rishikesh.
Nearly 89 million litres of sewage is daily disposed into Ganga from the 12
municipal towns that fall along its route till Haridwar. The amount of sewage
disposed into the river increases during the Char Dham Yatra season when
nearly 15 lakh (1.5 million) pilgrims visit the state between May and October
each year.
Apart from sewage disposal of half-burnt human bodies at Haridwar and
hazardous medical waste from the base hospital at Srinagar due to absence of an
incinerator are also adding to pollution levels in the Ganga.
The result has been the gradual killing of one of India's most treasured
resources. One stretch of the Yamuna River, the Ganges' main tributary, has
been devoid of all aquatic creatures for at least a decade.
In Varanasi, India's most sacred city, the coliform bacterial count is at least
3,000 times higher than the standard established as safe by the United Nations
world Health Organization. Coliform are rod-shaped bacteria that are normally
found in the colons of humans and animals and become a serious contaminant
when found in the food or water supply.
A study by Environmental Biology Laboratory, Department pf Zoology, Patna
University, showed the presence of mercury in the Ganga river in Varanasi city.
According to the study, annual mean concentration of mercury in the river water
was 0.00023 ppm. The concentration ranged from NT (not traceable) to 0.00191
Study done by Indian Toxicological Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow during
1986-1992 showed maximum annual concentration of mercury in the Ganga
river water at Rishikesh, Allahabad district and Dakshineswar as 0.081, 0.043
and 0.012 ppb respectively.
Ganga river at Varanasi was found well within the maximum permissible
standard of 0.001 ppm prescribed for drinking water by the World Health
In December 2009, the World Bank agreed to lend £600m ($1bn) to clean up
the Ganges.The funding is part of the Indian government's multi-billion dollar
initiative to end the discharge of untreated waste into the Ganges by 2020.
Earlier attempts to clean the river have failed, including a plan to make its water
drinkable by 1989.[4]
Ganga Action Plan or GAP was a program launched by Government of
India in April 1985 in order to reduce the pollution load on the river. The
program was launched with much fanfare, but it failed to decrease the pollution
level in the river, after spending 901.71 crore (approx. 1010) rupees over a
period of 15
The activities of GAP phase 1 initiated in 1985 were declared closed on 31
March 2000. The steering Committee of the national river conservation
Authority reviewed the progress of the GAP and necessary correction on the
basis of lessons learned and experiences gained from the GAP phase; 2.00
schemes have been completed under this plan. A million liters of sewage is
targeted to be intercepted, diverted and treated.

“The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round
which are intertwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph,
her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age-long culture
and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga.”
- Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India, born in Allahabad on the

A Holy Man prays in the Ganges River during Magh Mela

The Ganges River story is a challenge to tell in a brief format that distills the
major issues for people to appreciate and link to their own lives half a world
away. The complexity of the issues around the River Ganges, or Ganga Ma
[Mother Ganges], sheds light on the complexity of our own desires, needs, and
flaws as a human race.
It is a compelling story and a difficult story because it exposes truths that are
sometimes hard to admit. The problems we face are problems we have created
for ourselves in our collective behaviors. The problems are easy to deflect
personal responsibility for since our individual actions are merely straws in a
large hay pile. But a huge complicated hay pile it has become and we are to
blame. We are responsible, individually and collectively, to correct the
problems. While this story may be taking place on the other side of the planet it
holds universal lessons for all of us.

Let’s begin with the spiritual face that Man has put on the river: Throughout
the ages, the Ganges has played a dramatic part in the spiritual lives of the
Indian people. It is said that to know the Ganges isto know India and her
people. The river is strong, proud, and overbearing; she is also humble,
peaceful, and stern; she is always changing yet ever the same. The Ganges is
worshiped as a mother goddess, gangadevi, and her celestial water is
believed to possess supernatural power. Mother Ganges is many things to many
people. She is the provider for the millions who reside in the agricultural
communities along her banks; she is the bestower of benedictions for the pious,
and the redeemer of sins for the sinful; she is the healer of disease for the sick;
and for the dying, she is the giver of liberation from the cycle of birth and
death. The devout deeply believe in the powers of the Ganges water. It is said
that if one bathes in the Ganges or even sprinkles three drops of Ganges water
on his head, he becomes freed from past sins (karma). The ganges is believed to
have such purging effects on the impurities of the soul that if one even
remembers the name of the Ganges, he acquires such merit that he easily attains
a place in heaven. [courtesy]

Mother Ganga, in the intricate and complex belief system of Hinduism, is the
essence of purity. To drink her waters is to heal, to bathe in her waters is to
wash away the sins, to have your body cremated and ashes scattered in her
waters is to ensure your place in heaven. The waters are holy and revered…and
humans and those that love the river are making her ill. That which we love
we often hurt in our ignorance. Perhaps it is our fall from God’s Grace… a
central theme in all the worlds religions that our sins are our imperfection and
our challenge to redeem ourselves in God’s eyes. It is the same for the River
Ganges, in loving the river Man has made the river ill.
Physically, the Ganges River begins high in the Tibetan plateau and winds its
way 2,500 Kilometers [about 1,500 miles] to the Indian Ocean in the Bay of
Bengal. The river flows through China, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The
Ganges river basin [~1million square kilometers~] is both one of the most
fertile places on earth and also one of its most populated with over 400 million
people dependent upon the river as a lifeline.

Along its journey water is diverted for irrigation of crops and as

a consequence water levels in the river have dropped to make the river
unnavigable to cities and towns that once supported river boat trade. The river
is used for discharge of industrial waste from factories, such as leather makers
and pulp mills, and raw human sewage.
“Indian scavengers look for coins and other valuable items from among the
offerings of devotees in the Ganges at Varanasi on April 5, 2009. More than 400
million people live along the Ganges River. An estimated 2,000,000 persons
ritually bathe daily in the river, which is considered holy by Hindus. In the
Hindu religion it is said to flow from the lotus feet of Vishnu (for
Vaisnava devotees) or the hair of Shiva (for Saivites). While the Ganges may
be considered holy, there are some problems associated with the ecology. It is
filled with chemical wastes, sewage and even the remains of human and animal
corpses which carry major health risks by either direct bathing in the water
(e.g.: Bilharziasis infection), or by drinking (the Fecal-oral route).” AFP
Humans ritually bathe themselves in the waters adding to the pollution. Fecal
coliform [from human "poop"] measurements have been recorded as high as
67,000 times the safe level for humans.

Families cremate the remains of their loved ones and then scatter the ashes into
the waters to ensure entrance into heaven. For those who cannot afford a proper
cremation the river receives partially cremated human corpses…

There are those that are working hard now to clean up the Ganges. They seek
to create and enforce more stringent pollution laws for industries as well as for
cities and towns that discharge raw and untreated sewage into the river. With
400 million people dependent upon her waters and a population that is second
only to China in size it is imperative the Ganges River be cleaned up. This is
no longer a matter of a few pilgrims, farmers, factory owners, or local people
who use the water. We humans are killing the Goddess…and now we’re facing
diminished seasonal water from the Tibetan Plateau as a result of shrinking
glaciers from climate change.
The Ganges is precariously positioned to become a concentrated stream of
poison to all life dependent upon her. The Ganges is far beyond the point that
“the solution to pollution is dilution”. In fact, the earth as a whole is beyond
that paradigm when we have a population explosion of almost 7 billion

The Ganges River is iconic not just for its spiritual inspiration for India and her
people but because the River is a focal point of human needs. It is our need for
spirituality and meaning in our lives, the reality of growing food to eat, the
creation of goods for our daily life, and the need for clean water for health,
hydration and hygiene. The river, and the life dependent upon her, faces
diminishing freshwater runoff from glaciers, competing withdrawal of the water
for agricultural and industrial use, human contamination of the water as a
communal bathtub, graveyard, and worshipping site. While the Ganges is being
made ill by the people that flock to her shores, all of us have a hand in
strangling the waters that flow into the river in the first place. What will
happen when the waters begin to dry up? Or China diverts the water for its
population? Or Bangladesh suffers from the Ganges being reduced to a toxic
stream no longer able to support the Bangladesh economy or its people?

I leave you with an excellent video documentary from Tyson Sadler on the
Ganges. Be forewarned that there are scenes that may be disturbing to some
viewers. I’ve gone back and forth about using this video but in the end it is the
truth of the situation. See for your own eyes…
1. ^ Self-purification effect of bacteriophages, oxygen retention mystery: Mystery Factor Gives
Ganges a Clean Reputation by Julian Crandall Hollick. National Public Radio.
2. ^
3. ^
4. ^ "World Bank in India Ganges loan". BBC News. 3 December 2009.
5. ^ "Ganga Action Plan bears no fruit".

External links
• - The Campaign for a Clean Ganga
• National River Conservation Directorate
• Eco Friends Ganges conservation