Varanasi: Every government that has come to power at the Centre has promised to clean river Ganga. But have these efforts delivered the desired results? Thirty years before Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government's flagship 'Namami Gange' was launched, late prime minister Rajeev Gandhi had set up the 'Ganga Action Plan' on 14 June, 1986.
The incumbent government established a separate ministry for the purpose and allotted a sum of Rs 20,000 crore. Still, even after five years, the status of Ganga leaves much to be desired. BD Tripathi, Ganga Scientist, BHU says, "Ganga problem has been there for a long time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a new ministry. Over Rs 20,000 crore were allotted. A lot of work was done. But the result is not showing."
"Flow of water in Ganga is constantly dipping so its dilution capability is also getting weakened. And once dilution capability weakens, then even if you don't increase the pollutants, you will find pollution index high," Tripathi added. There are various factors why the 2,525 km river is not completely pollution free yet. One of them being dumping of industrial waste from over 750 industrial units in the region. These wastes have created at least four dead zones in the majestic river.
These dead zones stretch as far as two kilometres in some areas. Nothing (whether some form of vegetation or animals) that passes through these dead zones is able to survive. Ganga is revered by millions around the world. Every year more than 700 tonnes of ash from the burning of around 33,000 dead bodies is discharged into the river along with remains of those dead bodies. These are some of the factors that are hampering the efforts to clean Ganga.
People in Varanasi believe Modi has been able to create some awareness. "There is no doubt that after Narendra Modi became the prime minister, the ghats have become cleaner and people are becoming increasingly aware of the problem," says Piyush Vardhan, a resident of Varanasi.
Though the river remains of great spiritual value, if timely efforts are not made to arrest the causes of pollution, it will be too late to revive the water body.