Modi’s Ganga sutra and the politics of Varanasi

Modi’s Ganga sutra and the politics of Varanasi

River pollution and sewage are top of the agenda for all parties, but Latha Jishnu who spent several days on the campaign trail in Varanasi is sceptical if they can clean up the Ganga or the holy city

Modi’s Ganga sutra and the politics of Varanasi

Modi’s Ganga sutra and the politics of Varanasi

River pollution and sewage are top of the agenda for all parties, but Latha Jishnu who spent several days on the campaign trail in Varanasi is sceptical if they can clean up the Ganga or the holy city

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  • Excellent. I studied at


    I studied at University of Roorkee(Now IIT) for my Ph.D in 80s. We used to go to Ganges canal in the evening and sitting on the banks put our feet in the Ganges. Even in Summer the water is chill. A local version is Ganges water cures skin diseases. In the past milk cans were dipped in the Ganges river with a rope overnight. The Ganges water serves as refrigerator to preserve milk from spoilage. Most of the agricultural operations wherever Ganges river passes are through Ganges water only. I didn't find agricultural pumpsets in the region. Such is the role of Ganges both sacred and economic force.

    Ganges belongs to the whole Nation and it is the duty of every Indian to preserve the sanctity and purity of the river.

    Save Ganga Movement is a widespread Gandhian non-violent movement supported by saints and popular social activists across the Indian States Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in support of a free Ganga. The movement is supported by Ganga Seva Abhiyanam, Pune-based National Women's Organisation (NWO) besides those of many other like-minded organisations and with the moral support from many religious leaders, spiritual and political, scientists, environmentalists, writers and social activists. Ganga Calling ÔÇô Save Ganga is another such campaign supported by Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action (ICELA).

    Ganges is the largest and the most sacred river of India with enormous spiritual, cultural, and physical influence. It provides water to about 40% of India's population in 11 states. It is estimated that the livelihoods of over 500 million people in India are dependent upon the river, and that one-third of India's population lives within the Ganges Basin. Despite this magnitude of influence and control by the river over present and future of the country, it is allegedly under direct threat from various man made and natural environmental issues.
    River Ganges flows through the most densely populated regions of India passing 29 cities with population over 100,000, 23 cities with population between 50,000 and 100,000, and about 48 towns. A sizeable proportion of the effluents in Ganges are caused by this population through domestic usage like bathing, laundry and public defecation. Countless tanneries, chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries, slaughterhouses, and hospitals contribute to the pollution of the Ganges by dumping untreated toxic and non-biodegradable waste into it. It is this sheer volume of pollutants released into the river every day that are causing irreparable damage to the ecosystem and contributing to significant sanitation issues.
    Built in 1854 during the British colonisation of India, the Haridwar dam has led to decay of the Ganges by greatly diminishing the flow of the river. TheFarakka Barrage was built originally to divert fresh water into the Bhagirathi River but has since caused an increase of salinity in the Ganges, having a damaging effect on the ground water and soil along the river. Apart from this, Bangladesh and India faced major tensions due to this barrage. The government of India planned about 300 dams on the Ganges in the near future and the tributaries despite a government-commissioned green panel report that has recommended scrapping 34 of the dams citing environmental concerns.
    Global warming
    Gangotri glacier which feeds the river Ganges and 30.2 km long and between 0.5 and 2.5 km wide is one of the largest in the Himalaya. However, Due to global warming it has been receding since 1780, although studies show its retreat quickened after 1971. Over the last 25 years, Gangotri glacier has retreated more than 850 meters, with a recession of 76 meters from 1996 to 1999 alone. The UN 2007 Climate Change Report has suggested that the glacial flow may completely stop by 2030, at which point the Ganges would be reduced to a seasonal river during the monsoon season.
    Failure of Ganga Action Plan
    The Ganga action plan was, launched by Shri Rajeev Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India on 14 Jan. 1986 with the main objective of pollution abatement, to improve the water quality by Interception, Diversion and treatment of domestic sewage and present toxic and industrial chemical wastes from identified grossly polluting units entering in to the river. The other objectives of the Ganga Action Plan are as under.
    ÔÇó Control of non-point pollution from agricultural run off, human defecation, cattle wallowing and throwing of unburnt and half burnt bodies into the river.
    ÔÇó Research and Development to conserve the biotic, diversity of the river to augment its productivity.
    ÔÇó New technology of sewage treatment like Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) and sewage treatment through afforestation has been successfully developed.
    ÔÇó Rehabilitation of soft-shelled turtles for pollution abatement of river have been demonstrated and found useful.
    ÔÇó Resource recovery options like production of methane for energy generation and use of aquaculture for revenue generation have been demonstrated.
    ÔÇó To act as trend setter for taking up similar action plans in other grossly polluted stretches in other rivers.
    But the efforts to decrease the pollution level in the river became abortive even after spending Rs 9017.1 million (~190 million USD adjusting to inflation). Therefore, this plan was withdrawn on 31 March 2000. This plan is described as failure by many scientist and NGOs in their studies.

    Ganga is life save it.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

    Posted by: Anonymous | 2 years ago | Reply
  • Good article. This is same

    Good article. This is same even with Musi River in Hyderabad. However, I doubt on the quantum of waste water generated -- water supplied and water extracted from ground water. In Hyderabad alone it comes around 2000 mld!!! What about industries operating illegally!!! Yet the article -- good job.

    In addition to these point source pollutants there is another non-point source pollution through chemical inputs agriculture technology. This pollution enters the river with rainwater runoff. There is no way to treat this pollutant except through changing the technology. That is chemical inputs to organic inputs. Is this possible when the governments are run by the MNCs support???

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 2 years ago | Reply
  • Why we r not raising the

    Why we r not raising the voice on Factories which directly disposed their water into the River without treating -Primary, Secondary, Territory. Legislation have to be made that all the effluents leaving on River ganga should have the Quality which could use for other purpose nor polluting the river...

    Posted by: Anonymous | 2 years ago | Reply
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