MAN-MADE IMPACT ON GANGA RIVER AND FISHERIES
Jitendra Kumar, Ashish K. Pandey1, A.S. Kumar Naik*, V. Mahesh, Antim Shukla1, Avantika Pathak2
Department of Fisheries Resources and Management,
College of Fisheries, Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, Mangalore - 575002, India, 1Narendra Deva University of Agriculture & Technology Kumarganj Faizabad (U.P.). 2Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture &Technology Kanpur (U.P.)
The Ganga river system, which has a total length of about 8,047 Km, is the most important river system in India and one of the largest in the world. The Ganga is a major river of the Indian subcontinent rising in the Himalaya Mountains and flowing about 2,510 km (1,560 mi) generally eastward through a vast plain to the Bay of Bengal. On its 1,560-mi (2,510-km) course, it flows southeast through the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. In central Bangladesh it is joined by the Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.
Ganga River known as Ganga Maata or Mother Ganges is revered as a goddess whose purity cleanses the sins of the faithful and aids the dead on their path toward heaven. In most Hindu families, a vial of water from the Ganga is kept in every house. It is believed that drinking water from the Ganga with one's last breath will take the soul to heaven. Hindus also believe life is incomplete without bathing in the Ganga at least once in their lifetime. Some of the most important Hindu festivals and religious congregations are celebrated on the banks of the river Ganga such as the Kumbh Mela or the Kumbh Fair and the Chhat Puja.
Basic Information about the Ganges River of India
Total Length of River Ganges
2,510 Kms (1,560 miles)
Average depth of Ganga River
52 Feet (maximum depth, 100 feet)
Place of Origin of Ganga River
Foot of Gangotri Glacier, at Gaumukh, at an elevation of 3,892 m
Area drained by Ganges River (Ganges Plains)
1,000,000 Square Kilometres
Major Tributaries of Ganges
Yamuna, Son, Kosi, Gandak, Gomati, Ghaghara, Bhagirathi etc...
Cities on the bank of Ganges
Kanpur, Soron, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Ghazipur, Bhagalpur, Mirzapur, Buxar, Saidpur etc...
However, the river is not just a legend; it is also a life-support system for the people of India
It is important because:
• The densely populated Ganga basin is inhabited by 37 per cent of India's population.
• The entire Ganga basin system effectively drains eight states of India.
• About 47 per cent of the total irrigated area in India is located in the Ganga basin alone.
• It has been a major source of navigation and communication since ancient times.
• The Indo-Gangetic plain has witnessed the blossoming of India's great creative talent.
Pollution in Ganga River
Today, over 29 cities, 70 towns, and thousands of villages extend along the Ganga banks. Nearly all of their sewage - over 1.3 billion litres per day - goes directly into the river, along with thousands of animal carcasses, mainly cattle. Another 260 million litres of industrial waste are added to this by hundreds of factories along the rivers banks. Municipal sewage constitutes 80 per cent by volume of the total waste dumped into the Ganga, and industries contribute about 15 percent.
The majority of the Ganga pollution is organic waste, sewage, trash, food, and human and animal remains. Over the past century, city populations along the Ganga have grown at a tremendous rate, while waste-control infrastructure has remained relatively unchanged. Recent water samples collected in Varanasi revealed fecal coli form counts of about 50,000 bacteria per 100 millilitres of water, 10,000% higher than the government standard for safe river bathing. The result of this pollution is an array of water-borne diseases including cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and amoebic dysentery. An estimated 80% of all health problems and one-third of deaths in India are attributable to water-borne diseases.
There is an urgent need to make people aware and get started to stop its pollution and degradation
The principal sources of pollution of the Ganga River can be characterized as follows:
• Domestic and industrial wastes. It has been estimated that about 1.4 × 106 m3 d-1 of domestic wastewater and 0.26 × 106 m3 d-1 of industrial sewage are going into the river.
• Solid garbage thrown directly into the river.
• Non-point sources of pollution from agricultural run-off containing residues of harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
• Animal carcasses and half-burned and unburned human corpses thrown into the river.
• Defecation on the banks by low-income people.
• Mass bathing and ritualistic practices.
Impact of River water pollution
The pollutants include oils, greases, plastics, plasticizers, metallic wastes,suspended solids, phenols, toxins, acids, salts, dyes,cyanides, pesticidesetc. Many of these pollutants are not easily susceptible to degradation and thus cause serious pollution problems. Contamination of ground water and fish-kill episodes are the major effects of the toxic discharges from industries. Discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents leads to number of conspicuous effects on the river environment. The impact involves gross changes in water quality viz reduction in dissolved oxygen and reduction in light penetration that tends to loss in self purification capability of river water.
The Facts about the Ganges River Pollution
Approximately 1 billion litres of raw, untreated sewage are dumped in the river on a daily basis. The amount has more than doubled in the last 20 years and experts predict another 100% increase in the following 20 years.
The rapid explosion of India's population in the last 25 years coupled with lax regulations on industry has put a huge strain on the river.
Thousands of bodies are cremated on the banks of the river yearly with many being released into the river with hopes that their souls may have a direct path to heaven.
Hundreds Unwanted or 'illegitimate' babies, cattle and other animal carcases are also dumped in the Ganges again with religious significance
The levels of Colliform bacteria are over 2800 times the level considered safe by the W.H.O (World Health Organization).
Impact on Fisheries
Farakka Barrage has also resulted in occupational displacement of the fisher people in both upstream and downstream. For a long time fisher people in Bihar have been protesting against the barrage as this has hindered the natural migration of valuable fishes from the sea, especially Hilsa, a delicacy.
Human impact on rivers
Man impacts rivers in many ways. The often harmful flow of substances produced by humans is referred to as emission or load. Solid matter, humus, certain metals, nutrients and acidifying substances leach into rivers as a consequence of land use and point loading within a drainage basin. These substances cause many kinds of changes in the aquatic environment and also in the species distribution and abundance of aquatic organisms. Moreover, often the recreational value of the river becomes diminished. Often human actions also change the river flow or the shape of the riverbed. This happens, for example, when riverbeds are cleaned or the water flow is regulated.
1. Illegal Mining
Example: Haridwar In and around the town, boulders abutting the river are being removed for construction, causing damage to the river's banks and bed. Tractors and trucks often just drive through the bed in the dry season.
2. Climate Change
Example: Devprayag The melting of the Gangotri glacier, the source of the Ganga, has accelerated. This could impact water flow in the river in dry seasons, specially in Devprayag where around 30 per cent of the water flow is from melted snow and glacier. One controversial estimate says the glacier may disappear by 2035.
3. Ill-Planned Dams
Example: Downstream Uttarkashi Over 600 dams are either operational, under construction or being planned along the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, that combine to form the Ganga at Devprayag. Besides causing great damage to the geography of the region, the dams obstruct the natural flow of the river, thus reducing the oxygen content in the river. A lack of it is killing many of the living organisms that are key to ensuring the health of the river.
4. Untreated Sewage
Example: Kanpur Untreated sewage is a big problem all along the river from source to sea. Tanneries in Kanpur have been dumping waste into the Ganga. Only about a third of the sewage and industrial effluent being discharged into the river is currently treated.
5. Sewers & Waste Water Canals
Example: Calcutta Twenty-six major and numerous minor nallahs flow into the Ganga in Bengal. The sewage treatment plants do not function effectively. According to experts, the water of the Ganga is not even fit for bathing in Bengal, Varanasi and most major cities along the river (see map). Along with industrial pollution, untreated sewer water is a major problem.
6. Body Dumping
Example: Varanasi Half-burnt bodies are washed away in the river. Some bodies, like those of sadhus, are traditionally thrown into the river and not cremated. Around 35,000 bodies are cremated on the ghats in Varanasi every year. An electric crematorium set up in 1989 is in a state of disrepair.
7. Industrial waste
About 35.3% of the over 3 million small-scale industrial units (SSIUs) are of polluting nature. In case of large water polluting industrial units discharging effluents into the rivers and lakes, only 29% have adequate effluent treatment plant (Ministry of Environment & Forests. 1997). CPCB has identified 17 categories as highly polluting industries for priority action like sugar sector followed by pharmaceutical, distillery, cement and fertilizer.