Shrinking river Ganges alarms Varanasi environmentalists

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By Girish Kumar Dubey

Varanasi, May 26 : Environmentalists and scientists in Varanasi are a concerned lot these days due the shrinking size of the river Ganges,regarded as holy by most Hindus.

The pollution levels in the river have reached an alarming level, and experts have predicted a severe water crisis in the Ganga basin in the near future.

B D Tripathi, a scientist attached with the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) observed that dams and irrigational canals are having a reduced water flow into the river.

"The situation of the Ganga is really bad. It is giving very dangerous signals. In the coming years, the river basin is going to face a severe water crisis for sure. The flow of the water is reduced over the years and the reason is that we have constructed dams on the upper reaches," claimed Tripathi.

The river is today at a threshold where not only human life, but flora and fauna is also in danger.

"The flow of the water has reduced drastically. Water is polluted and even the environment around the holy banks is not the same that it used to be. I feel that Ganga is trying to indicate to us through all these things that things are going beyond our control. It wants us to act before it is too late," said Ram Shankar Singh, head of Rakshat Gangam Andolan (a save Ganga campaign).

Nearly 88 per cent of the pollution originates in 27 cities located along the banks of River Ganga and its tributaries.

Industrial effluents account for a quarter of the entire rubbish being thrown and pumped into these rivers.

Domestic and industrial pollution, combined with deforestation, use of pesticides and fertilisers and other factors, have rendered the water of River Ganga unfit for drinking.

According to environmentalists, one of the major causes of polluting the river is the cremation of human bodies on the banks of the river, the practice of throwing dead bodies and immersion of flowers and other articles into the Ganga after religious rituals.

According to a recent official report, only 39 percent of the primary target of the Ganga Action Plan, which the Central Government had started in 1985, has been met so far.


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