Water pollution is a major environmental issue in India. The largest source of water pollution in India is untreated sewage. Other sources of pollution include agricultural runoff and unregulated small scale industry. Most rivers, lakes and surface water in India are polluted.
A 2007 study found that discharge of untreated sewage is the single most important source of pollution of surface and ground water in India. There is a large gap between generation and treatment of domestic waste water in India. The problem is not only that India lacks sufficient treatment capacity but also that the sewage treatment plants that exist do not operate and are not maintained.
The majority of the government-owned sewage treatment plants remain closed most of the time due to improper design or poor maintenance or lack of reliable electricity supply to operate the plants, together with absentee employees and poor management. The waste water generated in these areas normally percolates into the soil or evaporates. The uncollected waste accumulates in the urban areas causing unhygienic conditions and releasing pollutants that leach into surface and groundwaters.
A 1992 World Health Organization study reported that out of India's 3,119 towns and cities, just 209 have partial sewage treatment facilities, and only 8 have full wastewater treatment facilities. Downstream, the river water polluted by the untreated water is used for drinking, bathing, and washing. A 1995 report claimed 114 Indian cities were dumping untreated sewage and partially cremated bodies directly into the Ganges River. Lack of toilets and sanitation facilities causes open defecation in rural and urban pill areas of India, like many developing countries. This is a source of surface water pollution.
Sewage discharged from cities,towns and some villages is the predominant cause of water pollution in India. Investment is needed to bridge the gap between sewage India generates and its treatment capacity of sewage per day. Major cities of India produce 38,354 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage, but the urban sewage treatment capacity is only 11,786 MLD. A large number of Indian rivers are severely polluted as a result of discharge of domestic sewage.
The Central Pollution Control Board, a Ministry of Environment & Forests Government of India entity, has established a National Water Quality Monitoring Network comprising 1429 monitoring stations in 28 states and 6 in Union Territories on various rivers and water bodies across the country. This effort monitors water quality year round. The monitoring network covers 293 rivers, 94 lakes, 9 tanks, 41 ponds, 8 creeks, 23 canals, 18 drains and 411 wells distributed across India. Water samples are routinely analysed for 28 parameters including dissolved oxygen, bacteriological and other internationally established parameters for water quality. Additionally 9 trace metals parameters and 28 pesticide residues are analysed. Biomonitoring is also carried out on specific locations.
The scientific analysis of water samples from 1995 to 2008 indicates that the organic and bacterial contamination is severe in water bodies of India. This is mainly due to discharge of domestic waste water in untreated form, mostly from the urban centres of India.
In 2010 the water quality monitoring found almost all rivers with high levels of BOD (a measure of pollution with organic matter). The worst pollution, in decreasing order, were found in river Markanda (490 mg/l BOD), followed by river Kali (364), river Amlakhadi (353), Yamuna canal (247), river Yamuna at Delhi (70) and river Betwa (58). For context, a water sample with a 5-day BOD between 1 and 2 mg O/L indicates a very clean water, 3 to 8 mg O/L indicates a moderately clean water, 8 to 20 indicates borderline water, and greater than 20 mg O/L indicates ecologically-unsafe, polluted water.
The levels of BOD are severe near the cities and major towns. In rural parts of India, the river BOD levels were sufficient to support aquatic life.
Rivers Yamuna, Ganga, Gomti, Ghaghara River, Chambal, Mahi, Vardha are amongst the other most coliform polluted water bodies in India. For context, coliform must be below 104 MPN/100 ml, preferably absent from water for it to be considered safe for general human use, and for irrigation where coliform may cause disease outbreak from contaminated-water in agriculture.
In 2006, 47 percent of water quality monitoring reported coliform concentrationst above 500 MPN/100 ml. During 2008, 33 percent of all water quality monitoring stations reported a total coliform levels exceeding those levels, suggesting recent effort to add pollution control infrastructure and upgrade treatment plants in India, may be reversing the water pollution trend.
Treatment of domestic sewage and subsequent utilization of treated sewage for irrigation can prevent pollution of water bodies, reduce the demand for fresh water in the irrigation sector and become a resource for irrigation. Since 2005, Indian wastewater treatment plant market has been growing annually at the rate of 10 to 12 percent. The United States is the largest supplier of treatment equipment and supplies to India, with 40 percent market share of new installation. At this rate of expansion, and assuming the government of India continues on its path of reform, major investments in sewage treatment plants and electricity infrastructure development, India will nearly triple its water treatment capacity by 2015, and treatment capacity supply will match India's daily sewage water treatment requirements by about 2020.
A joint study by PGIMER and Punjab Pollution Control Board in 2008, revealed that in villages along the Nullah, fluoride, mercury, beta-endosulphan and heptachlor pesticide were more than permissible limit (MPL) in ground and tap water. Plus the water had high concentration of COD and BOD (chemical and biochemical oxygen demand), ammonia, phosphate, chloride, chromium, arsenic and chlorpyrifos pesticide. The ground water also contains nickel and selenium, while the tap water has high concentration of lead, nickel and cadmium.
Flooding during monsoons worsens India's water pollution problem, as it washes and moves solid waste and contaminated soils into its rivers and wetlands. The annual average precipitation in India is about 4000 billion cubic metres. From this, with the state of Indian infrastructure in 2005, the available water resource through the rivers is about 1869 billion cubic meters. Accounting to uneven distribution of rain over the country each year, water resources available for utilization, including ground water, is claimed to be about 1122 billion cubic meters. Much of this water is unsafe, because pollution degrades water quality. Water pollution severely limits the amount of water available to Indian consumers, its industry and its agriculture.
Main article: Pollution of the Ganges
More than 500 million people live along the Ganges River. An estimated 2,000,000 persons ritually bathe daily in the river, which is considered holy by Hindus. Ganges river pollution is a major health risk.
NRGBA was established by the Central Government of India, on 20 February 2009 under Section 3(3) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. It also declared Ganges as the "National River" of India. The chair includes the Prime Minister of India and Chief ministers of states through which the Ganges flows.
Further information: Pollution of the Yamuna River
By an estimate by 2012, Delhi's sacred Yamuna river contained 7,500 coliform bacteria per 100cc of water. A lot number of NGOs, pressure groups, eco-clubs, as well as citizens' movements, have been active in their task to clean the river.
Even though India revised its National Water Policy in 2002 to encourage community participation and decentralize water management, the country's complex bureaucracy ensures that it remains a "mere statement of intent." Responsibility for managing water issues is fragmented among a dozen different ministries and departments without any coordination. The government bureaucracy and state-run project department has failed to solve the problem, despite having spent many years and $140 million on this project.
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Canals, rivers and lakes in India often serve as dumping grounds for sewage, solid and liquid wastes. These are sources of water pollution, as illustrated in Tamil Nadu (above) and West Bengal (below).
“Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss.”— (David Bolling)
Presently there is only 1% water which is drinkable on our planet where as our planet is covered with water by 70%, which is salt water and not usable for human. Very soon we all are going to face complex and urgent water problems and the only way to create a healthier future is for everyone to do their part to save rivers from pollution. Presently everyone forget the important of rivers and we just doing exploitation of rivers. No one bother about the pollution which we are creating in all rivers water either they are big rivers or small one. Presently the fast rate of water pollution is adding to the scare, be it the rivers or the groundwater which going to put a gap between demand and supply drinkable water. Recently a study was done on the sate of rivers in the country and which shows polluted rivers in the country has risen from earlier 121 to 275. The condition of rivers is alarming situation for country and unchecked flow of sewage being one of the main reasons of pollution.
Whole Indian population is directly or indirectly depends upon these rives either these are big national level rivers or locale rivers who are merging in these big rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavar, Narmada, Tapti, Brahmaputra, Indus etc. but sadly these all rivers face pollution from many sources: farming, industry and even tourism. Now it become important to protect these rivers from pollution in order to save them for our ourselves and future generations. As much as industrialisation is developing in same proposition the pollution in river water is increasing.
“The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart.”– Tanako Shozo
PROTECTING RIVERS TO SAVE ENVIRONMENT
There is study on what is really going wrong was presented by a recent study focused on the sate of rivers in the country. The numbers of polluted rivers in the country has risen from earlier 121 to an alarming 275, with unchecked flow of sewage being one of the main reasons of pollution. That makes it imperative for the centre and the state governments to plan and make the users relies the alarming state of affairs on aqua front and harp on judicious use of water. No effort for environment protection would be complete without focusing on rivers and other means of water supply. After all, potable water is key to success in conserving all other areas.
Now this is a big challenge for government and need of society to get clean these rivers because the level of drinking water going down day by day. Believe it, we get a situation very soon when we all start to fight for drinking water or its resources. We all can take example from many areas from India where a big part of population facing the situation of drought. This is not to suggest that the governments are witnessing mutely the vandalism of the rivers and fast depleting of ground water levels. But an alarming situation requires emergency measures on war footing to prevent a catastrophe taking place in near future. The efforts and plans should be of magnitude greater than the challenges since water is a life sustaining essential commodity.
The most ancient source of water, even before the human race came into being, was the rivers. The river systems have sustained civilizations after civilizations since time immemorial. But these systems are facing grave threat at present than ever before.
The fact of the matter is that the journey of these rivers flowing since ages is being somewhere stopped. Intense pressure of growing populations, industrialization and mind-boggling planned and unplanned development is seriously showing in terms of both quality and quantity of water the rivers provide. Another serious fall-out of pressure on the river basin systems is the over-use of groundwater resource. The demand and supply gap has been widening day by day. As a result both the sources are currently in danger. The solution lies in protecting the rivers and harnessing the available water resources optimally.
No socio-economic development or even political stability will ever be possible without ensuring uninterrupted supply of quality potable water. The government too realizes that all developments including raising the health index of the people depend on availability of quality water. That is why the renewed approach to give fillip to protecting rivers and rejuvenating groundwater level has been adopted.
A positive of the government’s plan on this front has been to raise the profile of the rivers the ads a psychological edge in attempts at river protection is the reorientation of the Ministry of Water Resources which in the past did not have any clarity on scope of work and meager financial allocations.
The Ministry’s work charter has now been broadened to include River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation plans. A related positive development has been raising the stature of drinking water and sanitation functions from a mere department under the Ministry of rural development to a full-fledged Ministry.
These are being considered as indications of a more serious approach which the centre intends to adopt o the river protection and other water related issues. It would entail introducing new technologies in view of many water projects including dams and reservoirs being cited as the causes for ecological disaster with a negative impact on people’s life.
Being the longest river (2525 km) in the country and second largest in the world, naturally, Ganga has remained to be the central theme of the successive government’s river conceptualization plan in terms of protection and cleansing and more so that of the present government. Apart from the length and the quantum of water, Ganga enjoys special sanctity.
Moreover, the fact that Ganga has become the fifth most polluted river of the world, provide a trigger to act fast in restoring its status not only as a river that fulfils needs but also a symbols of faith and devotion for millions. Many stretches of the river are polluted and water is unfit for drinking as varied pollutants are presents in much higher quantity than the prescribed limits.
In recent times, the clamor for a cleaner Ganga has gained momentum. Vigorous efforts by the present government are in line with this thrust being laid by various quarters. The small steps can help reduce the pollutions and restore river’s glory. But on a bigger scale the canvas has to be widened that should involve plans at economics revitalization of Ganga with the participation of neighboring countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh.
The Ministry of Water Resources had drawn a multi-phased plan for Ganga cleaning under the ages of its “Namami Gange” program. In the first phase 200 villages along the river side will be covered. A key area of focus would be divert open drains fallings into the river and make alternate arrangements for sewage treatment. Every village household would be encouraged to have toilets within. An estimated Rs. one crore would be spent on every village.
A special task force has also been created. First battalion of Ganga Task Force was recently deployed at Garhmukteshwar while three more such formations would be on course at Kanpur, Varanasi and Allahabad. The force comprises of ex-service men who will be posted along the river for monitoring pollution.
“The Ganga Task Force will be deployed on the banks of the river and will ensure industry and civilians do not pollute the river. However, keeping Ganga clean is not the responsibility of our younger’s only, but of every Indians living near the river”, water resources Minister Ms Uma Bharati has said.
The Namami Gange scheme has a budgetary allocation of over Rs. 6,300 crore. Out of this Rs. 2037 core have been earmarked for rejuvenating the river, while another Rs. 4200 crore will be spent on developing a navigation corridor in the next six years. Also there is a Rs. 100 crore project dedicated to ghat development and waterfront beautification. The government also announced a ‘NRI Ganga fund’ to raise funds to be spent on ‘special projects’.
To further strengthen its charter related to green environment, “HARIYALI” project connected with plantation is also being started along the river Ganga in all five states namely Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar Jharkhand and West Bengal through which it flows. The plantation will be monitored every six months and a video recording will be sent to the headquarters every time for verification.
The first attempts at cleaning Ganga were started in 1985. As part of his river cleaning plans the Ganga Actions Plans was launched with fanfare. At that time in time the project was launched with sole motive of improving the quality level of water of Ganga and its tributaries to bathing levels.
Subsequently, the rivers cleaning plan was not only continued by successive Governments but they even expanded its scope and area of cover age. This could be gauged from the fact that whopping Rs. 4,032 crore was spent to clean 41 rivers that covered 190 towns spread over 20 states.
The most point is whether these efforts and spending huge amounts delivered any tangible results. The answer is for everyone to see from the current state of affairs of the rivers particularly Ganga and Yamuna.
On the lines of Ganga Action Plan I and II, such plans were also introduced covering various other rivers including Yamuna. The condition of both Ganga and Yamuna is for anyone to see and evaluate.
The Yamuna Action Plan had started in 1993-94 with financial and technical assistance from Japan. The phases of the plan had incurred a cost of over Rs. 1500crore by 2011. The effort is still on with no serious results in sight.
In the nearly three decades old efforts of the successive governments at river restoration the success rate has been negligible. It throws a big challenge to the present dispensation as well to ensure that its plans succeed.
The government has begun efforts in the right earnest. Creating the right kind of infrastructure has been the prerequisite. A step in this direction has also been the setting up of the National Bureau of water Use efficiency and modernization/expansion of flood forecasting network of the Central water Commission (CWC). In addition, thrust is being laid on speedy completion of the contentious Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh and re-launching the Yamuna rejuvenation plan. These, in fact, are the priority areas for the Ministry of Water Resources and considerable headway has been made on these fronts.
There do exist certain dichotomous situations so far as Ganga and Yamuna Actions Plans are concerned vis-à-vis the past efforts. For example, it has not been clarified as to how the new Yamuna Rejuvenation Plan would be different from the one already of Rs. 1514 crore has already been spent. Furthermore, new projects worth Rs. 3230 are being implemented in Delhi-Haryana stretch of the river.
A great challenge is ensuring sensible use of available water resources by different sets of users. Fully conscious of this challenge the Ministry of water Resources is setting up an autonomous body named National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency to control and regulate efficient use of water by adopting modern and traditional practices of water use which will work on the pattern of Bureau of Energy Efficiency. The project has been in the pipeline for the past four years and it has been taken up with renewed vigor.
This autonomous body will have members from different central ministries, water experts and representative from industries and civil societies. It will also be in charge of labeling and certification for public utilities, local bodies and industries that manufacture household water fixture and appliances.
It is expected that due to representative character of this body the problem of lack of coordination among various ministries and departments related to water as a subject would be addressed to a great deal. The multiplicity of authorities dealing with water has been a big setback in the past to evolve water as a concept.
River protection is a phenomenon which has to be all inclusive. Filling infrastructural gaps would also help in properly conceptualizing the river protection planning.The entails not only concentrating on the mainstream network of the rivers but also tributaries, rivulets and torrents.
One of the neglected aspects of river development in India has been navigation. The present government has taken a serious note of this missing link and the Ministry of Surface Transport has drawn ambitious plans to revive old waterways and develop new ones to provide cheaper means of transportation through this mode. This, of course, is directly related to health of the rivers as navigation would require a particular level of water flow.
A bigger challenge for the government is to provide quality potable water to the vast rural population. The task is uphill as any effort has to address the needs of more than 700 million people living in about 1.42 million habitations spread over 15 diverse ecological regions. A multitude of problems related to socio economic set up, education, poverty and rituals make water supply to rural areas a more complex issue.
The effect of the poor quality water supply in rural India has a telling effect on the health of predominantly poor rural populace. Surveys suggest that annually about 37.7 million people suffer from water borne diseases. About 1.5 million children die due to diarrhea alone. On economic front 73 million working days are lost every year only due to water borne revenue loss.
The centrally sponsored National Rural Drinking water Programme aims at providing adequate and safe drinking water to people in rural areas ina phased manner. The scheme envisages creating infrastructure and capabilities to ensure successful operation of drinking water supply scheme in rural areas.
As per this plan it is expected that 50% of the rural households would be provided with piped water supplied by 2017. Importantly, care is being taken to ensure that all service meet set standards in terms of quality of water and timing of supply every day. By the end of 2022 the NRDWP intends covering 90% of the population. Maintaining water quality and other environmental parameters can only be achieved through the participation of all stakeholders. The key area would be maintaining hygiene near water sources.
That requires improving the way in which water is collected and stored to prevent contamination of water. The government plans envisages involving panchayats and other civic bodies to launch awareness campaigns and ensure greater participation of people. Accordingly the policies have undergone key changes.
What Can You Do?
We all can help to prevent water pollution and we are all responsible for that so that we all forward a healthy life to future generation. We have to generate the awareness or educate all common people about the threat we are facing with the rivers because many people don’t realized the bad impact on environment through the pollution we are generating in rivers. May be when people understand how much pollution is leaking into our waterways and what it means for mankind. We all can help to keep water clean through many things we can do and prevent water pollution of nearby rivers and lakes as well as groundwater and drinking water.
Clean water is not an expenditure of Federal funds; clean water is an investment in the future of our country. – Bob Shuster, U.S. Representative, quoted in Washington Post, 9 January 1987