Case Study of river pollution Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 10 May 2016

Case Study of river pollution


River pollution has caused loss of lives and imbalances in the ecosystem. People, industries and natural causes contribute to the pollution of rivers. This makes the waters unsafe for both animal and human consumption. Conversely, what happens upstream may not be knowledge to those at the lower part of the river. In consequence, governments have come up with laws and regulations to curtain practices that may render the water harmless. Irrespective of the rules, river pollution still takes place. This study employs literature in the quest of all factors that surround river pollution.

The Ganga River

This is a river that has its source at southern slopes of the Himalayan ranges which is due to glaciations at Gangotri. It is four thousand metres above sea level. The river flows through mountains for two hundred and fifty kilometers before descending on an elevation of two hundred and eighty eight metres above sea level. Mandakini and Alaknanda are its tributaries. This river carries the largest quantities of silt in the world which is deposited at its delta (Wohl, 2011). Pertaining to Wohl (2012), for a long time, this river has enjoyed its purity but due to human encroachment, it has become much polluted. Purity of river water is dependent on its velocity. The faster it flows, the higher the purity. This river has numerous obstructionsso as to be utilized for irrigation purposes. With the escalation in commerce and communications, many towns have developed along the river.

This river is polluted industrial and domestic waste waters, mass bathing as a performance of rituals, defecation at its banks by people who come from low income families, carcasses belonging to animals, human copses both unburned and half burned thrown into the river, agricultural residues from fertilizer and pesticides brought about by surface run off of water and solid garbage that is thrown directly into the river by people (Agre, 2013). In consequence to this, according to Ghosh (2012), the Ganga river is now a poisonous rier which is highly comprised of pollutats. In line with this, the pollutants also comprise of heavy metals which are capable of causing cancer to the population.

Key Players
Ministry of Environment and Forests

This is the major body in India that deals with all environmental issues at the central government level. It is funds and exercises control over all over bodies and agencies conserve the environment. This body oversees and supervises all the activities and financial spending of these other bodies. The ministry has been urged by some other bodies to change its proposal so as to perk up on controlling pollution for this river (Gopal & Agarwal, 2003).

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

This is the body that deals with all issues pertaining to the environment and its pollution in India. This body undertook a study in the year 1981 through to 1982 which enable it to classify methods through which the river is utilized and the pollution load. The report generated by this river gave the genesis of the Ganga Action plan. With reference to this report, it was established that pollution was from pesticide and fertilizers employment in agriculture, industrial wastes, domestic wastes and land use methods. This information was the basis on which the Department of Environment framed a policy (Gopal & Agarwal, 2003).

The Ganga Project Directorate (GPD)

According to (Jain, 2009), this body was founded in 1985 under the National Ministry of Environment and Forest. The rationale behind the formation of this body was for it to become a secretariat to the CGA and also to be the Apex Nodal Agency for the entire implementation process. Moreover, this body was to synchronize activities of divergent ministries that take part in the administration of funds. This body was thought to be a single investment which would be able to achieve the goal of improving the quality of water.

The plan for this body was to be executed by the state governments which would assume management and operational tasks. The work of GPD was to exercise overall supervision. This body was to remain intact until the completion of the GAP. The goal of this entire plan was to dissuade the wastes generated in the urban dwellings away from the river. This was to be enabled by treating the wastes through recycling and reuse.

For efficiency of this plan, it was found out that it was a research was indispensible. This was to ascertain the nature and sources of pollution. In addition, a research would give an underpinning on which the most applicable plan pertaining to the utilization of resources of the Ganga River for forestry, animal husbandry and agriculture would be established. Additionally, the demographic, human and cultural settlement along the banks of the river would be ascertained. This led to the involvement of fourteen universities (Singh, 2007).

National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)

This is a body that was set up in the year 2009 as a nodal agency to supervise the coordination of authorities, the planning, monitoring and financing of all activities that are directed towards the eradication of pollution and the conservation of the all rivers. It was chaired by the prime minister and was founded under the NGRBA Act (The Energy and Resource Institute Consultant, 2011). Its activities were supposed to be cover cleaning of rivers in all states. Ganga River was a main target by this body due to an international conference that dealt with environmental issues that had been held two years prior. Through this body, corporate and civil bodies as well as the citizens were supposed to participate with the ultimate goal of alleviating river pollution (Agre, 2013).

Foreign Aids

Some of the countries and foreign bodies made a decision of partnering wit the Indian government with the chief goal of rescuing this river which is in dire need for intervention. Among them is the Israeli government which was ready to which was in position to cooperate with IITs through provision of technological, knowledge (Nandan, 2012). Additionally, the Australian government also has the goal of contributing the salvation of the Ganga River through funding projects that were designed to thwart the river from industrial pollution trough the AusAID program. The country also pledged to aid India with expertise who would aid with coming up with better sustainable and safe methods for the management and disposal of the waste generated b y the tanneries.

Governance Challenges

Challenges that that face the policy and mitigation plan is that, pollution is partly caused by municipal sewage which is a component of the government. Additionally, some of the industrial wastes were found to be extremely toxic and hard to manage. In the same context, the government set up regulations which would control pollution by the industrial sector. A setback that emerged is that some of the industries did not comply hence they were forced to close down. The government had to engage in legal tussles with such companies, a step that led to expenditures and time consumption. With regard to this, commercialization has elevated along the shores of this river.

This has led to the establishment of many industries and tanneries along the river, which do not or do not adequately treat their effluent before discharging it to the river. The government has tried several ways even with employment of motivation to perk up on the owners to treat their effluent. This has not yielded much fruit as some of them have not incorporated the plan in their practice (Bharti, 2012).

The governance and management of the projects was under the docket of the state governments. They partnered with the non governmental organizations and foreign aid agencies which introduced the conservation plan to new obstructions. This is because the non governmental organizations gave up with their own mandates which were supposed to be complied with by the state governments. This impeded the decision making process. This did not only result in to delays of the entire project but also gave room for justification of contractors’ shortcomings (Chatterjee, 2008).

The government is trying to put up mechanisms and projects that will lead to alleviation of pollution to enable the water at least attain bathing quality. With reference to Nandan (2012), this action has faced a blow when some of the members of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) stepped down form the task. This is with the reason that they had found out that the government was not straight forward with the goal of averting pollution with regard to the Ganga River.

Value Conflicts

There has been an issue whether to privatize the waters of the Ganga River. Most arguments have been against this. The arguments are based on the thoughts that water is an economic good and with regard to this, it should be utilized for commercial purposes. Some people suggested that the water from the river should be bottled and sold at the market. This is in line with the draft water policy which echoed that due to the economic value of water, it cannot be in provision for free. This means that the water still faces greater chances of overuse.

Contested Knowledge

Hindus believe that the waters of the Ganga River are holy hence they utilize the river has been employed for ritualistic activities since time in memorial. This has led to the misuse, pollution and overuse. Additionally, with the information about plastics and polythene not being biodegradable, in accordance to Governace Knowledge Center (2012), the high court asked the government to veto the utilization of the same in all cities that are situated along the Ganga River. The court also recommended that the state government should encourage the citizens to indulge in the usage of biodegradable products.

This very same ordered the administration to proscribe sewage discharges into the river. The court in deed brought out very good suggestions but it would be a bit challenging the government to implement this because some of the products are packaged in plastic and polythene packages. If people were supposed to avert from the use of plastics and polythene, it certainly means that they do not employ these products in their daily uses.

Water recycling has been employed as a chief way of dealing with the effluents generated industries and domestically. There are twenty nine thousand industries in Kapur among which four hundred are tanneries. In accordance with this large transnational companies charged with the task waste water treatment have been set up the ultimate truth is that not all the water generated by the companies can be treated and used for agriculture year in year out. Subsequently, some of the water has to come back to the river. This is one factor that did not yield fruits in GAP 1 as pointed out by Bharti (2012).

Competing Interests

The condition of the river has grown from worse to worst. This is on the grounds that those who are in charge of policy and decision making for the whole reclamation process do not hinge on the river for their livelihoods (Thakkar, 2013). Whether the water is clean, or the river flows or not, their lives are not dependent on this. Those whose livelihoods are dependent on this river are nowhere near the position of making key decision. Corresponding to this, there has been prominence on pipes, pumps and novel plants but no strategies for the management and governance of the river regime. For the sake of operation, sewage plants have been established but they do not function to capacity. The quality of their services is poor and no one has been held responsible. This in turn contributes to more pollution.

Pertaining to the Gang a campaigns, the river is not supposed to be attached to sewage but the reality on the ground is that the rive r is a sewage in itself in accordance with Thakkar ( 2013). The Ganga campaigns have emphasized on the impeding of the project works at Mandakini, Alaknanda and Bhagirathi tributaries but the government has commissioned the same. This is irrespective of the denial by the Forest Advisory Committee twice to validate the project. Additionally, the Wildlife Institute of India also recommended that the project should not be given a go ahead.

Institutional Barriers

The Ganga Action Plan which was set up in 1985 was supposed to come to a conclusion by the month of March in the year 1990. According to Gopal and Agarwal (2003), this deadline was not yielded to instead many other deadlines arose form this. To the year 2008, the project was still on and was nowhere near conclusion. This slow pace has been attributed to many factors. The government was found not to release sufficient funds for this project. This has led the in between stagnation of the project.

This is because the government puts the money designated for this project into other uses. GAP was to disseminate its duties by establishing river fronts, enhancing Ghats used for bathing, electric crematoria, dealing with toile complexes, setting up treatment plans for the industrial effluents, laying down treatment plants for sewages and coming up with effective mechanisms for handling municipal wastes that accounted for seventy fie percent of Ganga river pollution. The ministry of environment and forest did not set up a timeline and deadlines for submission of reports about the undertakings of GAP. The court had set up deadlines but this ministry had no strategies of ensuring compliance to the same (Gopal & Agarwal, 2003).

GAP itself could not account for its expenditures with reference to Agre (2013). Some of the funds had been misappropriate and most often work had not been accomplished. This was so both at the national level and also by the National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD). In accordance to finances, the stated complained that inadequacy of funds had been the stumbling block that had inhibited them from achieving the goals of this project. On the contrary, the funds that had been issued by the central government had not been effectively and faithfully utilized on the project.


Ganga River has been encroached and this has lead to extinction of some animal and plant species. In addition, human lives especially for the poor who solely depend on the river for their water uses are rendered susceptible. The government needs to explore its strategies from a serious point of view. All the projects set should be monitored to meet their completion in the set time. All the bodies associated, the people and the industries should carry out activities that perk up on the life of this river.


Agre, P. (2013). River Ganga in dire state of pollution and governance affairs. SERI News , 7 (10), 42-50. Bharti, S. (2012, July 31). Strengthen participatory urban governance to prevent pollution in Ganga at Kanpur and recognise the need to look for decentralized solutions. India Waterportal , pp. 36-42. Chatterjee, S. (2008). Water resources, conservation and
management. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. Ghosh, A. (2012, October 17). Ganga is now a deadly source of cancer, study says. The Times of India , pp. 23-24. Gopal, K. & Agarwal. (2003). River pollution in India and its management. New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation. Governace Knowledge Center. (2012, December 7). Governace Knowledge Center. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from Allahabad High Court asks Up government to regulate pollution in river Ganga: Jain, A. (2009). River pollution : regeneration and cleaning. New Delhi: A.P.H Publishing Corporation. Nandan, T. (2012, March 14). Israel ready to help India check Ganga pollution. Governance , pp. 22-17. Singh, L. (2007). River Pollution. New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. Thakkar, H. (2013, June 5). The Plight of Severely Polluted Ganges River. Epoch Times , pp. 15-17. The Energy and Resource Institute Consultant. (2011). Environmental and Social Analysis. New Delhi: National Ganga River Basin Authority. Wohl, E. (2011). A World of Rivers: Environmental Change on Ten of the World’s Great Rivers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wohl, E. (2012, March 5). The Ganga-Eternally Pure? Global Water Forum , pp. 27-30.

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