Before getting into the specifics of the state of Ganga River, we should learn about what water pollution is. Water pollution refers to the contamination of water bodies such as rivers, seas, lakes, groundwater, etc. This pollution is caused by the discharge of pollutants directly or indirectly into water bodies without any concern for its toxicity or its effect on the environment. The pollutants here can be a variety of things, the sewage from houses which mostly consists of organic wastes or the highly toxic chemicals released into the water by factories, etc. Although organic wastes from houses are a lot less harmful than the discharge from industries, the sheer amount of organic waste generated by the humans on the planet can still be detrimental to the health of the water body. Let’s see how our Ganga River has been polluted and how she is faring now.
Water Pollution in India: Ganga River Pollution
A short introduction on Ganga River before we get started. Ganga is the largest river in India with an extraordinary religious importance for Hindus. It provides the majority of the water to the North India which is about 40% of India’s population across 11 states, serving an estimated population of 500 million people or more, which is larger than any other river in the world. This means that the pressure on Ganga River is extremely high. Over time this pressure has begun showing. This pressure is due to the water pollution that we dump into the river. Let’s take a closer look at all that goes into our sacred Ganga River.
Human Waste: The River sustains the human population in an area the size of Mexico and a population of almost 500 million people and these people have shat into the river for years and years. The sewage from the houses of all these people ends up in the Ganga River. Along with the human faeces, we have chemicals too such as the detergents and soaps we use. This sewage has a higher organic load and therefore at least to some extent, the river can handle the water pollution, but when combined with other pollutants, our sacred Ganga River does not stand a chance.
Industrial Waste: Many industrial cities such as Kanpur, Allahabad, and Varanasi, etc. lie on the banks of the Ganga River. All these cities are home to various industries and factories consisting of countless tanneries, chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries, slaughterhouses, and hospitals which grow and prosper thanks to the presence of Ganga. In return for the gift of water, people along the river contribute in killing this river by dumping their effluents to add to the already high levels of water pollution. Although industrial wastes are not as large in quantity as human wastes, they are even more harmful due to the presence of harmful chemicals and non-biodegradable toxic substances.
Religious Wastes: Taking a dip in the holy waters of Ganga is supposed to wash away all your sins and to this end, a huge number of people gather along its banks during festivities to ensure their righteousness. In addition to this, since time immemorial, people have considered dying by the Ganga River as a sure shot way to reach heaven. Therefore the sights of dead bodies floating by on the river are a common sight. This holy river has been made hellish by the people hoping to secure a berth in heaven. This seriously has to stop since not only is it disgusting it is also dangerous as decaying corpses are host to many dangerous bacteria and viruses.
Dams and Pumping Station: The human population has been growing since the advent of technology and the growth does not look like it’s going to stop anytime soon, To feed this ever increasing population, along the river ganga a lot of dams and irrigation pumping stations have been constructed. Such dams reduce the downstream flow severely affecting life downstream and also upstream. The negative effects of dams can be seen by analysing the decline of Gangetic Dolphin’s population.
Did you know that Yamuna, the main tributary of Ganga River does not have any form of life (such as fish) in its waters and has not had for the last decade? Before we forget about the water pollution in the Ganga River, we should keep in mind that this problem is never going to go away unless we do something about it. The population will keep increasing and the problems are also going to increase. So it is imperative for all the half a billion lives dependent on Ganga River to keep the river in perfect shape and healthy. Sooner we start, the better.