ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cleaning the Ganga: An Alternative Approach

The suggestions of Vijay Jagannathan on “Cleaning the Ganga River: What Needs To Be Done Differently” (EPW, 13 September 2014) are actually not “different” as claimed. And, even if different, they are easier said than done.

Let me share my experience about the fate of the river Adi Ganga. I have personal experience of how a part of the Adi Ganga has become polluted and ruined over time largely by the activities of a factory adjacent to it. In 1996, when I first visited the Adi Ganga at Chakdaha (Nadia District in West Bengal), my friend showed me how the effluent from the paper mill located beside the river was polluting its water. My second visit was in 2007, after 11 years. I was shocked to see the fate of the Adi Ganga. The course of the river went away from the mill and a large portion of its water (about half of the width of the river) was permanently darkened by the factory effluent. The third time I visited the same place, in 2014, after seven years, I found the river almost shrunk to a very narrow strip of water (about one-fourth of its width, first seen by me in 1996) going farther away from the mill. It was more appalling because such an irreparable damage to the river has been happening under the sky, openly in front of everybody’s eyes, without any protest organised and voice raised by anybody against it. This is an instance of how a factory has almost destroyed the course of a river within a period of about 18 years. Further, the impact of negative externalities in polluting the river Ganga, which resulted from a large number of jute mills and other factories established across the bank of the Hooghly River (another name of the Ganga), is very well known to all, leave alone the scenario in other parts of the country.

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