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National River: Ganga

Image: Chaitanya Dinesh Surpur

Why was it made a national symbol?
The Ganga is India’s longest river (2,525 km) and is considered the holiest of rivers by Hindus. It was declared a national river by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008 in order to achieve the objectives of the Ganga Action Plan, initiated by PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. The Plan, a clean-up operation, had focussed on municipal sewage. Under Singh’s tenure, the Ganga River Basin Authority was set up to broaden the clean-up operation, integrate pollution control, sustainable use of water and flood management.   


Current Status
Sewage and industrial waste continue to plague the river. The most damaging industries are tanneries, sugar mills, distilleries, pulp and paper mills. Keeping pollution levels low is particularly difficult during summer. The Narendra Modi government has set up a committee to suggest ways to maintain uninterrupted flow for electric projects and ecological balance. Anil Joshi, founder and chairman of the Himalayan Environment Studies and Conservation Organisation, says, “The Ganga has religious and economic activities intrinsically linked with it. While the faith of devotees have not been affected by pollution, economic activity, like farming, have been hit.”  

(This story appears in the 22 August, 2014 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • J.s.dugal

    Mr. Modi may mean well to clean Ganga but I feel that it is very very uphill task looking at the statistics given below. Mainly because 1. the length of the river with all the population on its banks which almost becomes impossible to monitor and control. 2. Modi being a staunch HINDU may not be able to control the holy rituals and if Modi takes the wrath of the HOLY sect then I think he can bid farewell to his 'Ache Din'. Statistics:- Facts about Ganges River Pollution - Approximately 1 billion litres of raw, untreated sewage are dumped in the river on a daily basis. The amount has more than doubled in the last 20 years and experts predict another 100% increase in the following 20 years. - The rapid explosion of India's population in the last 25 years coupled with lax regulations on industry has put a huge strain on the river leading to an explosion in Ganges river pollution. - Thousands of bodies are cremated on the banks of the river yearly with many being released into the river with hopes that their souls may have a direct path to heaven. - Hundreds Unwanted or 'illegitimate' babies, cattle and other animal carcases are also dumped in the Ganges again with religious significance - The levels of Coliform bacteria is over 2800 times the level considered safe by the W.H.O (world health organisation)

    on Sep 29, 2014
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