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Day 72 – Q 4.Identify the most polluted stretches of the Ganga and its tributaries. What are the factors contributing to the massive pollution along these stretches? Discuss.

4. Identify the most polluted stretches of the Ganga and its tributaries. What are the factors contributing to the massive pollution along these stretches? Discuss. 

गंगा और उसकी सहायक नदियों के सबसे प्रदूषित हिस्सों की पहचान करें। इन हिस्सों में बड़े पैमाने पर प्रदूषण में योगदान करने वाले कारक क्या हैं? चर्चा करें।


The Ganga rises on the southern slopes of the Himalayan ranges from the Gangotri glacier at 4,000 m above mean sea level. It occupies a unique position in the cultural ethos of India. It is one of the largest water drains of the world, densely populated and is critical for millions of people’s health, prosperity, and spirituality living in the northern part of India. While the severity of ecological stress is clear since some time, the diversity and sheer immensity of the Ganga tributary system makes generalization difficult. 

TLP Phase 1 – Day 72 Synopsis

TLP Phase 1 – Day 72 Synopsis


In the recent past, due to rapid progress in communications and commerce, there has been a swift increase in the urban areas along the river Ganga. 

As a result, the river is no longer only a source of water but is also a channel, receiving and transporting urban wastes away from the towns. Today, one third of the country’s urban population lives in the towns of the Ganga basin.

  • The purity of the water depends on the velocity and the dilution capacity of the river. A large part of the flow of the Ganga is abstracted for irrigation just as it enters the plains at Haridwar. From there it flows as a trickle for a few hundred kilometres until Allahabad, from where it is recharged by its tributaries. 
  • The Ganga receives over 60 per cent of its discharge from its tributaries. The contribution of most of the tributaries to the pollution load is small, except from the Gomti, Damodar and Yamuna rivers.
  • Data from the past three CPCB reports, carrying water pollution monitoring figures on different stretches during 2002-17, shows that the number of polluted river stretches in the country increased from 121 in 2009 to 302 in 2015 and further to 351 in 2018.
  • With regards to Ganga, only one of its five polluted stretches is in the critical category where the BOD level is more than 30 mg/l. This stretch was found where Varuna river, a minor tributary, meets Ganga in Varanasi. The other polluted stretches include Haridwar-Sultanpur, Kannauj-Kanpur (UP), Buxar-Bhagalpur (Bihar) and Tribeni-Diamond Harbour (West Bengal).

The principal sources of pollution of the Ganga river can be characterised as follows:

  1. Domestic and industrial wastes –  It has been assessed that more than 80 per cent of the total pollution load (in terms of organic pollution expressed as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)) arises from domestic sources, i.e. from the settlements along the river course.
  2. Solid garbage thrown directly into the river. 
  3. Non-point sources of pollution from agricultural run-off containing residues of harmful pesticides and fertilisers. 
  4. Animal carcasses and half-burned and unburned human corpses thrown into the river. 
  5. Defecation on the banks by the low-income people. 
  6. Mass bathing and ritualistic practices. 
  7. Due to over-abstraction of water for irrigation in the upper regions of the river, the dry weather flow has been reduced to a trickle. 
  8. Rampant deforestation in the last few decades, resulting in topsoil erosion in the catchment area, has increased silt deposits which, in turn, raise the river bed and lead to devastating floods in the rainy season and stagnant flow in the dry season. 
  • Cleaning of river Ganga was started under Ganga Action Plan (GAP). GAP-I was launched in 1985 followed by GAP-II in 1993 with the objective of improving the water quality of river Ganga. These schemes were later merged with other schemes of National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).
  • Government of India is supplementing the efforts of the state governments in addressing the pollution of river Ganga by providing financial assistance to the states. Namami Gange Programme is an umbrella programme which integrates previous and currently ongoing initiatives by enhancing efficiency, extracting synergies and supplementing them with more comprehensive & better coordinated interventions.


River Ganga has captured Indian’s imagination since time immemorial. The river is believed by millions of Indians to have the capacity to wash away one’s sins and purify the living and the dead. Such is the power of the Ganga that every region in India has its own small ganga. These showcase the need to safeguard and preserve the fragile ecosystem of the river Ganga and its tributaries.

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