IMCFJ and Ganga Action Plan
Allahabad , Uttar Pradesh , January 20 -22, 2007
Ganga is a perennial river which originates as a stream called "Bhagirathi" from Gaumukh in the Gangotri glacier at 30 ° 55' N, 79 ° 7' E, some 4100 m above mean sea level. Ganga river basin is the largest among river basins in India and the fourth largest in the world, with a basin (catchment area) covering 8, 61,404 sq km. It has a total length of 2,525 km, out of which 1,425 km is in Uttaranchal and UP, 475 km is in Bihar and 625 km is in West Bengal. Already half a billion people live within the river basin, at an average density of over 500 per sq km, and this population is projected to increase to over one billion people by the year 2030.
The Ganga today is more polluted than when the Ganga Action Plan was first initiated by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986. The fast shrinking glaciers, dams, barrages, canals and alarmingly high volume of pollution pose an ever increasing threat to the health and life of the river. The state of Uttar Pradesh alone is responsible for over 50% of the pollutants entering the river along its entire journey to the sea.
Taking the issue seriously Indian media Centre for Journalists (IMCFJ) in collaboration with the Ganga Action Plan initiatives conducted a two day workshop at Allahabad.
The 2006 official audit of the Ganga Action Plan has revealed that it has met only 39 per cent of its sewage treatment target. Moreover, the plan is behind schedule by over 13 years. According to the legal counsel, Central Pollution Control Board, Mr Vijay Panjawani, even after spending Rs 24,000 crore, the Ganga remains as dirty as ever.
A total of Rs.740.11 crore has been released to different States so far for implementation of schemes for the river Ganga under Ganga Action Plan (GAP). The GAP Phase - I, the first attempt of the Government of India to undertake pollution abatement works in the river Ganga, was launched in the year 1985 with the objective of treating 882 million litres per day (mld) of sewage and improving its water quality to bathing class standards. This Phase was declared completed in March, 2000 with the creation of sewage treatment capacity of 865 mld. Since GAP Phase - I did not cover the pollution load of Ganga fully, GAP Phase - II which includes plans for its major tributaries namely, Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda, besides Ganga, was approved in stages from 1993 onwards. The above two phases of Ganga Action Plan have continued since their inception with GAP-I having been completed in 2000 and GAP-II is presently under implementation.
A total of 146 industries are reported to be located along the river Ganga between Rishikesh and Prayagraj. 144 of these are in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and 2 in Uttrakhand. Of the grossly polluting industries in U.P., 82 industries have installed Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) and are reported to be complying with the standards, 27 industries, though have installed ETPs are not reported to be complying with the prescribed standards and 35 industries are reported to have been closed. The Central Pollution Control Board has issued directions to the State Pollution Control Boards under Section 18 1(b) of Water Act, 1974 for taking appropriate legal action against the defaulting industries. In the State of Uttrakhand, of the 2 Grossly Polluting Industries, one is reported to have installed the ETP and the other is reported to have been closed. As regards the number of drains falling into the river in the towns covered under the Ganga Action Plan and number of identified Gross Polluting Industries which discharge their effluent in the river between Rishikesh and Prayagraj, the same is given in the Annexure. GAP Phase-I was declared closed in March, 2000. Since GAP Phase-I did not cover the pollution load of Ganga fully, GAP Phase II which included Plans for Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar and Mahananda besides Ganga was approved in various stages from 1993 onwards. The present sanctioned cost of works for Ganga river (main stem) under GAP Phase-II is Rs.564 crore against which an amount of Rs.373.58 crore has been released to the State Implementing Agencies. Out of a total of 311 schemes sanctioned, 185 schemes have been completed so far and the balance schemes are in different stages of implementation.