For ages the Ganga has remained the lifeline of India. Water of the river has been used for drinking, farming, washing, navigating etc. so much so that a sentimental bond has grown up with the river.
People love and respect the river, and even worship it as divine entity. A large number of religious centres have grown up all along the length of the river viz., Gomukh at the point of origin and Kapil Dham (i.e., Ganga Sagar) at the final destination.
In between there are important places like Hardwar; Varanasi, Prayag in Allahabad, Patna and Kalighat in Kolkata city. The flow of the river extremely reduced over the years due to creation of dam and high rate of water abstraction in upstream of river. As such, the pollution problem of the river enhanced manifold.
A comprehensive survey of the Ganga Basin was made by the Central Board for Prevention & Control of Water Pollution directorate that river, despite its extraordinary resilience, is heavily polluted at several places. Considering these facts, the Government of India constituted the Central Ganga Authority in February 1985 to evolve a long term programme for restoring the quality of the river.
Ganga flows through primarily three states—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. The main sources of pollution are urban and industrial wastes from 29 class I cities (i.e., those having population of over 1 lakh), 23 class II cities (i.e., those having population of over 50,000 & 1 lakh) and about 48 towns (i.e., those having population of less than 50,000).
All these towns are located along the 2,525 kms stretch of the river from Gangotri to Gangasagar. It has been examined that bulk of the pollution of the river is caused by municipal wastes, particularly by untreated sewage.
Considering these facts National Ganga Action Plan was formulated with a view to take the following measures:
1. Renovation of existing trunk sewers and outfalls to prevent the overflow of sewage into Ganga;
2. Construction of interceptors to divert flow of sewers and other liquid wastes into Ganga;
3. Renovation of existing sewage pumping stations and sewage treatment plants and installation of new sewage treatment plants to recover the maximum possible .resources especially bio- energy to operate the pumping and treatment plants and derive maximum possible revenue;
4. Biological conservation measures based on proven techniques; and
5. Other sanitation schemes.
A monitoring committee was framed by Central Ganga Authority (CGA), the terms of reference of the said committee was:
1. Technical analysis and review of the progress made in the implementation of the action programme approved by the Central Ganga Authority;
2. Assessment of shortfalls and gaps in the implementation aspects;
3. Additional points/suggestions to improve/expedite the implementation of the programme;
4. Establishing a computer data based collection/analysis system;
5. Providing technical advice/guidance to steering Committee on any of the issues which may arise as feedback during the implementation of the project; and
6. Reporting to the Central Ganga Authority after every three months;
A multimedia programme is also being finalised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to keep the public informed of the progress of various schemes under the Action Plan.
Though the river cleaning programme of the Government of India was started in 1985 with the launching of Ganga Action Plan (GAP), yet since 1993 the said programme was extended to other major rivers like Yamuna, Gomti, Krishna, Godabari and so on.
Since 2000, National River Conservation Authority (NRCA) replaces the function of CGA and expanded its activities in 160 towns located alone 31 inter-state rivers in 20 states. About 2,257.06 MLD of sewage is targeted to be intercepted, diverted and treated. With the persistent efforts of NRCA, the water quality with respect to chemical constituents are improved substantially