THE GANGES RIVER (GANGA)

edited January 2018 in Geography

THE GANGES RIVER (GANGA)

 The Ganges also known as Ganga is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh.
 The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the eastern Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India.
 After entering West Bengal, it is divided into two rivers, one is Hugly river or Adi Ganga, flowing through several districts of West Bengal and finally submerged with Bay of Bengal near Ganga Sagar.
 The second part is named as Padma which flows into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal.
 It is the THIRD LARGEST RIVER IN THE WORLD BY DISCHARGE.
ganges
The Ganges (Yellow), Brahmaputra (Violet), And Meghna (Green) Drainage Basins

Specification
Country: India, Bangladesh
Tributaries
- Left: Ramganga, Gomti, Ghaghara, Gandak, Kosi, Mahananda
- Right: Yamuna, Tamsa, Son, Punpun
Cities:
Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kannauj, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Buxar, Patna, Hajipur, Munger, Katihar, Farakka, Murshidabad, Plassey, Nabadwip
Source:
Gangotri Glacier, Satopanth Glacier, Khatling Glacier, and waters from melted snow from such peaks as Nanda Devi, Trisul, Kedarnath, Nanda Kot, and Kamet
Location: Uttarakhand, India
Elevation: 3,892 m (12,769 ft)
Coordinates: 30°59′N 78°55′E
Length: 2,525 km (1,569 mi)
Depth: 17 m (56 ft)
Basin: 1,080,000 km2 (416,990 sq mi)

GANGES-BRAHMAPUTRA DELTA
 The Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta is a river delta in the South Asia region of Bangladesh and in West Bengal, India. It is the world's largest delta.
 The delta is also known as the Brahmaputra Delta, the Sunderbans Delta, or the Bengal Delta.
Delta
THE GANGES DELTA - WORLD’S LARGEST DELTA ON EARTH
 Because it is also one of the most fertile regions in the world, it is called The Green Delta.
 The Ganges Delta empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is approximately 354 km (220 mi) across at the Bay of Bengal.
 The floodplain is from three rivers: Ganges, the Brahmaputra River and the Meghna River.

MAJOR DAMS AND BARRAGES
Farakka barrage
• A major barrage at Farakka was opened on 21 April 1975.
• It is located close to the point where the main flow of the river enters Bangladesh, and the tributary Hooghly (also known as Bhagirathi) continues in West Bengal past Kolkata.
• This barrage, which feeds the Hooghly branch of the river by a 42 km (26 mi) long feeder canal, and its water flow management has been a long-lingering source of dispute with Bangladesh.
• Indo-Bangladesh Ganges Water Treaty signed in December 1996 addressed some of the water sharing issues between India and Bangladesh.

Tehri Dam
• Tehri Dam was constructed on Bhagirathi River, tributary of the Ganges.
• It is located 1.5 km downstream of Ganesh Prayag, the place where Bhilangana meets Bhagirathi. Bhagirathi is called Ganges after Devprayag.
• Construction of the dam in an earthquake prone area was controversial.
Bansagar Dam
Bansagar Dam was built on the Son River, a tributary of the Ganges for both irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.

POLLUTION OF THE GANGES (GANGA)
 Pollution of the Ganges (or Ganga), the largest river in India, poses significant threats to human health and the larger environment.
 Severely polluted with human waste and industrial contaminants, the river provides water to about 40% of India's population across 11 states, serving an estimated population of 500 million people or more, more than any other river in the world.
 Ganges is considered to be the fifth most polluted river in the world.
WHAT IS WATER POLLUTION?
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies (e.g. lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater). This form of environmental degradation occurs when pollutants are directly or indirectly discharged into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds.
CAUSES OF WATER POLLUTION IN THE GANGES RIVER
The main causes of water pollution in the Ganges river are: the increase in the population density, various human activities (such as bathing, washing clothes, and the bathing of animals), and dumping of various harmful industrial waste into the river.
Human waste
The river flows through 29 cities with population over 100,000; 23 cities with population between 50,000 and 100,000, and about 48 towns.
A large proportion of the sewage water with higher organic load in the Ganges is from this population through domestic water usage.
Industrial waste
Because of the establishment of a large number of industrial cities on the bank of river Ganga like Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Patna, countless tanneries, chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries, slaughterhouses, and hospitals prosper and grow along this and contribute to the pollution of the Ganga by dumping untreated waste into it.
One coal-based power plant on the banks of the Pandu River, a Ganges tributary near the city of Kanpur, burns 600,000 tons of coal each year and produces 210,000 tons of fly ash. The ash is dumped into ponds from which slurry is filtered, mixed with domestic wastewater, and then released into the Pandu River. Fly ash contains toxic heavy metals such as lead and copper.
The amount of parts per million of copper released in the Pandu before it even reaches the Ganges is a thousand times higher than in uncontaminated water. Industrial effluents are about 12% of the total volume of effluent reaching the Ganga. Although a relatively low proportion, they are a cause for major concern because they are often toxic and non-biodegradable.
Religious traditions
During festival seasons, over 70 million people bathe in the Ganga to clean themselves from their past sins.
Some materials like food, waste or leaves are left in the Ganga which are responsible for its pollution.
While people drinking from the Ganga and bathing in its waters are spiritual experiences, it is also part of Indian traditional beliefs that being cremated on its banks and to float down the Ganges will atone for the deceased past sins and carry him directly to salvation.
In Varanasi alone, an estimated forty thousand bodies are cremated every year, many of those are only half-burnt.

EFFECT OF POLLUTED GANGES RIVER
Marine life
• The results of mercury analysis in various specimens collected along the basin indicated that some fish muscles tended to accumulate high levels of mercury. Of it, approximately 50–84% was organic mercury. A strong positive correlation between mercury levels in muscle with food habit and fish length was found.
• The Ganges River dolphin is one of few species of fresh water dolphins in the world.
• Listed as an endangered species, their population is believed to be less than 2000.
• Hydroelectric and irrigation dams along the Ganga that prevents the dolphins from travelling up and down river is the main reason for their reducing population.
• The Ganges soft-shelled turtle (Aspideretes Gangeticus) is found in the Ganges, Indus, and Mahanadi river systems of Pakistan, northern India, Bangladesh, and southern Nepal.
Wildlife
• Some of the dams being constructed along the Ganga basin will submerge substantial areas of nearby forest. For example, the Kotli-Bhel dam at Devprayag will submerge 1200 hectares of forest, wiping out the river otters and the mahaseer fish that are found there.
• Wildlife biologists in India have been warning that the wild animals will find it difficult to cope with the changed situation.
Human beings
• An analysis of the Ganga water in 2006 and 2007 showed significant associations between water-borne/enteric disease pop and the use of the river for bathing, laundry, washing, eating, cleaning utensils, and brushing teeth.
• Water in the Ganga has been correlated to contracting dysentery, cholera, hepatitis as well as severe diarrhoea which continues to be one of the leading causes of death of children in India.

CLEANING EFFORTS
Ganga Mahasabha
o Ganga Mahasabha is an Indian organisation dedicated to the Ganga river, founded by Madan Mohan Malviya in 1905.
o After a long struggle, British India agreed on 5 November 1914 that the uninterrupted flow of holy river Ganga is the rudimentary right of Hindu believers.
o The day is known as a 'Aviral Ganga Samjhauta Divas' (Uninterrupted Ganga flow agreement day) in the history of India and the agreement came into existence on 19 December 1916 which is known as Agreement of 1916.
o The sanctity of the agreement is not preserved by the state and central governments of India after independence though it is legally valid.
o More and more river water is diverted for irrigation use converting the river into a polluted sewer.

Ganga Action Plan
o The Ganga action plan was launched by Shri Rajeev Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, on 14 January 1986.
o Its main objective was to improve the water quality by the interception, diversion and treatment of domestic sewage and to prevent toxic and industrial chemical wastes from identified polluting units from entering the river.
o The other objectives of the Ganga Action Plan are as follows:
 Control of non-point pollution from agricultural run off, human defecation, cattle wallowing and the disposal of human remains in the river.
 Research and development to conserve the biotic diversity of the river to augment its productivity.
 Development of sewage treatment technology such as Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) and sewage treatment through afforestation.
 Rehabilitation of soft-shelled turtles for pollution abatement.
 Resource recovery options such as methane production for energy generation and use of aquaculture for revenue generation.
 To act as trend setter for taking up similar action plans in other grossly polluted stretches in other rivers.
 The ultimate objective of the GAP is to have an approach of integrated river basin management considering the various dynamic interactions between abiotic and biotic eco-system.
o Notwithstanding some delay in the completion of the first phase of the GAP it has generated considerable interest and set the scene for evolving a national approach towards replicating this program for the other polluted rivers of the country. The Government of India proposed to extend this model with suitable modifications to the national level through a National River Action Plan (NRAP).
o The NRAP mainly draws upon the lessons learnt and the experience gained from the GAP besides seeking the views of the State Governments and the other concerned Departments/Agencies.
o Under NRCP scheme the CPCB had conducted river basin studies and had identified 19 gross polluted stretches and 14 less polluted stretches along 19 rivers, which include 11 stretches situated along 7 rivers of M.P.
National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA)
o NRGBA was established by the Central Government of India, on 20 February 2009 under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
o It declared the Ganga as the "National River" of India.
o The chair includes the Prime Minister of India and chief ministers of states through which the Ganga flows.
o In 2011, the World Bank "approved $1 billion in funding for the National Ganga River Basin Authority."
Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court has been working on the closure and relocation of many of the industrial plants like Tulsi along the Ganga. In 2010 the government declared the stretch of river between Gaumukh and Uttarkashi an Eco-sensitive zone.[23]
Namami Ganga Programme
o In the budget tabled in Parliament on 10 July 2014, the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an integrated Ganga development project titled 'Namami Gange' (meaning 'Obeisance to the Ganga river') and allocated ₹2,037 crore for this purpose.
o As a part of the program, government of India ordered the shut down of 48 industrial units around Ganga.
o The program has a budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore for the next 5 years.
o This is a significant four-fold increase over the expenditure in the past 30 years (Government of India incurred an overall expenditure of approximately Rs. 4000 crore on this task since 1985).
o The Centre will now take over 100% funding of various activities/ projects under this program.
o Taking a leaf from the unsatisfactory results of the earlier Ganga Action Plans, the Centre now plans to provide for operation and maintenance of the assets for a minimum 10-year period, and adopt a PPP/SPV approach for pollution hotspots.
Ganga Manthan
o Ganga Manthan was a national conference held to discuss issues and possible solutions for cleaning the river.
o The conference aimed to take feedback from stakeholders and prepare a road map for rejuvenating the Ganga.
o The event was organised by the National Mission for clean Ganga on 7 July 2014 at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
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