The Ganga river, an elixir of life, descends from the Gangotri glacier and flows through north India before draining into the Bay of Bengal. Flowing south-east from the Himalayas, she travels a distance of 2510 kilometers creating a vast tributary network. Known to be one of the oldest river systems on the planet, the Ganga has seen India evolve right from the Indus Valley Civilization. Today, the timeless river meanders through the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal, nurturing about 400 million people, countless animals, and thousands of acres of farmland.
As India's longest river, Ganga also provides the second-highest water discharge globally. She creates the world's largest delta before draining into the ocean and feeds about 23,000 square miles of fertile sediment-laden land. Her waters quench thirst, irrigate, and clean households and commercial establishments. Ganga is therefore considered sacred by the Hindus, who believe in purifying themselves by dipping into the river and attaining freedom from birth or moksha by washing away the deceased's ashes in the holy waters.
Unfortunately, the divinity of Ganga is forgotten by those who are closest to her - people living and working on her banks. Sewage from households and wastewater from industries such as tanneries drain into the Ganga directly. In Varanasi, about 300 million liters of sewage pollutes the Ganga every day. This sewage water contains toxic fecal matter and high levels of detergents that are used to clean homes. Last year, India's Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revealed that the Ganga had dangerously high fecal coliform bacteria levels at 50,000 and above. The Ganga also suffers from the acids, heavy metals, and toxins that 1100 industrial units approximately discharge into her divine waters.
In the wake of Ganga’s misery and to preserve her purity, The Nammami Ganga Project is now working in all villages, towns, and cities on her banks. For instance, at Kanpur, the project has now tapped and diverted all drains carrying household waste that once led to the Ganga. The project has specifically targeted Kanpur's tanneries, and the wastewater from these tanneries is now processed at an effluent treatment plant.
We Can Save Ganga from Pollution
We, the people of India, who consider the Ganga a holy river, must actively raise awareness and inspire cleaner and greener Ganga. We must protect her by consciously changing how we clean so that harmful chemicals do not poison her life-giving waters. Let us pledge to save rivers such as Ganga from pollution; let us choose eco-friendly detergents today.