Gaps galore in Ganga action plan

Published: Thursday 31 August 2006

Palpable filth: Only the MoEF< Ganga Action Plan New Delhi

On July 10, 2006, the Union ministry of environment and forests (moef) issued a press release stating that the Ganga Action Plan (gap) has brought about a "significant difference" to water quality in the river. The press release was really a desperate attempt. For, much of the ministry's claim is based on a cost benefit analysis of the gap, that is of 1995-1997 vintage.

Granted, there is reason behind the ministry's desperation. Of late, ngos have pulled it up rather sharply over the declining quality of the Ganga's waters. But instead of acknowledging past mistakes (see Veerbhadra Mishra on Ganga Action Plan ), the ministry has opted to live in a fool's paradise.

Consider this when gap was planned in the early 1980s, it was estimated that 1,345 million litres per day (mld) of sewage flowed into the Ganga and 865 mld was treated. But the ministry's estimates were way off mark today about 8,250 mld of sewage flows into the Ganga. Of course, treatment capacity also increased to 3500 mld (of which 2,330 mld is in Delhi). But this hasn't been enough. The Central Pollution Control Board predicts that a gap over 3,000 mld would remain even after gap's second phase is completed. The gap, in fact, will be much higher, for waste water data is always under estimated. Besides, the installed capacities are under-utilised and treated sewage gets mixed with untreated sewage.

The press release does not say if gap's main objective -- restoring water quality to bathing standards -- has been achieved. It's high time moef mandarins put their heads together to analyse faulty river action plans. Misleading press releases aren't much help.

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