FAILURE OF THE GANGA
The Ganga Action Plan launched by the
Government of India with much fanfare has failed miserably in its objectives.
The pollution levels in Ganga are either same or even higher. What is worse, the
authorities, viz. the Jal Nigam and the State and Central Governments refuse to acknowledge
the failure, not to speak of taking corrective action.
Here is a brief of the Ganga Action Plan
and the findings of the Sankat Mochan Foundation:
Hundred of millions of people of India live in cities
situated on the banks of the river Ganga. Many of these cities have
population of over a million each and are also heavily industrialized. The
threat to the ecosystem of Ganga caused by the sewage and industrial
effluents was realised by the Government of India in 1986. The Ganga
Action Plan was launched in that year. But it has miserably failed to meet
the expectations of the people and even of its planners.
The Sankat Mochan Foundation found that the schemes for
Varanasi under the GAP Phase-I suffered from several shortcomings. Some
major ones are:
The sewage pump at Konia
terminal, when run to its capacity causes heavy surcharging of the old trunk
sewer. It causes erosion of the sewer linings and also spillage of sewage
from manholes in low-lying areas of the city.
Over 115 mld sewage, which could
be easily handled by the Konia Terminal, is actually being diverted to
Dinapur Sewage Treatment Plant. the Dinapur STP can handle only 80 mld,
resulting in by-passing of 35 mld untreated sewage into Varuna and
eventually into Ganga. This is also very expensive in terms of energy consumption.
Power breakdowns, which are
common in Varanasi, causes a sudden back pressure in the system and massive spillage
of sewage onto the roads and streets of the city.
The plant at Dimapur has to be
shut down completely during monsoons. Thus for three to four months in a
year all the sewage goes untreated.
The biogas generator in the
Dinapur STP does not function hence the plant is ineffective due to shortage
of power. Tens of millions of Rupees have been wasted on its construction,
while the villages around the Dinapur STP suffer from polluted water, water
borne diseases and mosquitoes.
The realities of the GAP Phase-I Schemes for Varanasi
BOD in the religious bathing area remains dangerously high
even after completion of the GAP I. The BOD is as high as 25 mg/l at the
confluence of Ganga and Varuna.
The fecal coliform varied from 70000
to 1.5 million/100ml. The BOD and the fecal coliform levels increase from
upstream to downstream as more and more untreated sewage enters the river.
values when compared with those six kilometers upstream of Assi are an eye
opener. The figures in this area, where the city of Varanasi starts and no point
discharges of effluents take place are 2mg/l of BOD and undetectable fecal
Even in the treated sewage coming out from the Dimapur
the BOD is dangerously high at 50mg/l against a maximum permissinle value of
20mg/l. Suspended solids are 100mg/l. Fecal coliform levels remain as high as
that entering the STP, since there is no arrangement for controlling it.