Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 51 – Q 1.Identify the most polluted stretches of the Ganga river system. What are the most prominent contributing factors to this pollution? Can the Namami Gange plan address the problem of pollution in the Ganges? Comment.

1. Identify the most polluted stretches of the Ganga river system. What are the most prominent contributing factors to this pollution? Can the Namami Gange plan address the problem of pollution in the Ganges? Comment. 

गंगा नदी प्रणाली के सबसे प्रदूषित हिस्सों की पहचान करें। इस प्रदूषण के लिए सबसे प्रमुख योगदान कारक क्या हैं? क्या नमामि गंगे योजना गंगा में प्रदूषण की समस्या को दूर कर सकती है? टिप्पणी करें।


Around 40 percent of Indian population is dependent on river Ganga for its water needs, the pollution levels are cause of concern. The government has taken several initiatives to abate pollution levels, conservation and rejuvenation of river Ganga such as Namami Ganga Programme.


Most polluted stretches of Ganga 

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is continuously monitoring the pollution levels across the river stretches in India. CPCB considers a Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) of less than 3 mg/l an indicator of a healthy river. BOD is the amount of oxygen required for the decomposition of organic compounds by microorganisms in a given amount of water. 

Most prominent contributing factors 

  • Industrial Waste: Presence of large industries especially in the UP region, releasing polluted water without treating them into the Ganga. They are even responsible for toxic pollution (Leather Industries). 
  • Agriculture Sources: Agricultural runoff containing fertilizers, pesticides being non-degradable and having long life.
  • Municipal/Solid Waste: The untreated sewage dumped into Ganga, gap between the functional Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) capacity and required STP capacity, has been a cause of concern.

  • Microbial Containment: such as faecal, total coliform released, this can be observed during the Kumbh Mela.  The river also finds the ultimate disposal place for unclaimed dead bodies and other half or fully burned dead bodies which decay and pollute river.
  • Dams: are also one of the main cause of pollution in the Ganga. Dams obstruct the flow of river and make it slow, due to which Ganga lacks in self-purification capacity.
  • Tons of plastic, polythene and other trash: are thrown into the Ganga River, choking out life from her waters and blocking existing sewerage systems.

Namami Ganga Programme

The Namami Ganga Programme is an initiative, to make villages on the bank of river Ganga ODF along with interventions dealing with solid and liquid waste management (SLWM). It incorporates activities like sewage infrastructure, ghats & crematoria development, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation, and public participation.

Yes, it can address the Issue 

  • Infrastructure development- Activities like sewage infrastructure, river-front development, ghat and crematoria development, ghat cleaning, rural sanitation, etc. have been undertaken under this and all the villages near Ganga have been declared Open Defecation free.
  • Decentralization- Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) have been accorded a prominent role in the planning and execution of the projects under the Namami Ganga Programme as in case of Ganga Grams initiative.
  • Mobilization of resources- financial and technological resource mobilization from the private sector is given priority. The Hybrid Annuity-PPP model has been adopted for the sewage sector.
  • Zero black liquor discharge has been achieved in paper and pulp industries.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), nodal agency for implementing this programme has partnered with the National Institute of Urban Affairs to prepare Urban River Management Plan, which aims at preventing the deterioration and to ensure sustainable use of water resources.
  • Knowledge dissemination and awareness building- Ganga Knowledge Centre (GKC) was established as a premiere and autonomous knowledge based institution to enhance the quality of the implementation of the Namami Ganga Programme. 

Still there are concerns

  • Unused funds- As per a report from the CAG, Government had only used $260 million of the $1.05 billion earmarked for the flagship programme between April 2015 and March 2017. 
  • Delays- There have been delays, lapses or complete non-implementation in areas like cleaning of the river, installation of sewage treatment plants, and construction of household toilets.
  • Slow Implementation- Attributable to delays in tendering, non- availability of land, legal issues, pending approvals etc. National Green Tribunal recently slammed the government due to the stretches between Haridwar and Unnao being “unfit for drinking and bathing”.
  • Financial issues- Inadequate finances and resources with local bodies cripple their ability to treat sewage produced in cities. This finds its way into the river.
  • Absence of a long-term plan- The government failed to come out with a detailed action plan for cleaning and rejuvenating Ganga.
  • Technical and Engineering aspects- Some of the worst polluted stretches of the river are across UP, Kanpur being the worst in terms of Biological Oxygen Demand. Treating the highly toxic sludge requires advanced treatment technology.
  • Poor inter-agency cooperation.
  • Inability to keep pace with growing pollution loads.


The gap between the functional capacity of STP and required capacity of STP needs to be plugged, the awareness levels need to be promoted, initiatives like Ganga Praharis to educate, motivate citizens. The development of Ganga River must be a lesson for improving the stretches of other polluted rivers in India. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email