Cleaner stretches recorded across all riverine States
The water quality of the Ganga in 2018 has “improved over last year”, according to a written statement in the Rajya Sabha on Monday by junior Water Resources Minister Satyapal Singh.
The statement said “dissolved oxygen” levels had improved at 39 locations, and “biological oxygen demand” (BOD) levels and faecal coliform had decreased at 42 and 47 locations respectively. These three parameters are a proxy for both the presence of aquatic life as well as microbes that may be harmful to these biota, and are conventionally used to assess the quality of the river.
These improved stretches of the river included places such as Rishikesh, the Har-Ki-Pauri Ghat at Haridwar; Ranighat in Kanpur; Tarighat in Ghazipur; Narora in Bulandshahr; Kachhla Ghat in Badaun, Aligarh; Buxar, Mokama and Munger — all in Bihar; Uluberia, Dakshineshwar and Diamond Harbour in West Bengal.
Sewage treatment plants
The government said Rs. 5,100 crore, of the Rs. 20,000 crore allotted to clean the Ganga, had been spent under the Namami Gange Programme from 2014-15 to 2018-19.
Last year, Rs. 1,725.86 crore had been spent till December 26, taking the cumulative expenditure to Rs. 5,187.37 crore. More than half the funds had been directed towards making new sewage treatment plants (STP) and effluent treatment plants (ETP), as well as making sub-par plants work better. From April 2014 to March 2018, a total of 145 projects were sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs. 15,074.76 crore. However, independent experts have said the cleaning efforts were half-hearted and there was little effort to ensure that the river’s voluminous flow in the upper stretches of Uttarakhand is maintained downstream.