Almighty Ganges-Can We!

1 April 2011
Summary

In south Asian region over 75 percent of the people live in rural areas, those have little access to safe potable water systems. Until, recently, people depended more on surface water which was exposed to microbial contamination resulting in water related disease like gastroenteritis, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, infectious hepatitis, infant diarrhoeas, and skin diseases and so on.

Most of the tributaries in Himalayan region are polluted due to indiscriminate outfall of liquid and solid waste into them, whereas the ground water in vast areas of Indo-Gangetic plain is suffering from high level of natural contaminants, like Arsenic, fluoride, salinity, iron, nitrate, etc.

The planning commission to Government of India says as large as 0.2 million habitations, out of a total of 1.423 million habitation in the country, are estimated to have one or the other, or combination of more than one, such contamination, and their number is gradually increasing due to indiscriminate, unscientific an over-exploitation of ground water and surface water sources for different uses.

For a while the shift from surface to ground water has reduced the risk of microbial contamination in spite of the water being largely left untreated, but, it has given rise to another set of problem, in the form natural and anthropogenic chemical contamination.

In such scenario it’s pertinent that, risks associated to the aquifers and springs in the tributaries in Himalayan Mountain region those are used for various household and productive purposes needs to be assessed through simplified qualitative and quantitative microbial and chemical risk assessment approaches. This will help in reducing the chances of pollution in to the smaller tributaries of river Ganges that flows across large part of India.

This might require better techniques and the information that can be used to support decision-making and risk management in its catchment or smaller tributaries. For this purpose a process of community contracting and participation needs to be implemented that encompasses through information education communication-IEC to capacity building of different stakeholder groups through a water resource and river conservation programme. 

The safe water in mountain region cannot only rely on a few factors alone, and that, greater attention should be paid to assuring microbial and chemical safety through an analysis of risk from principle pathways to risk assessment and risk management to achieve the objectives of Millennium Development Goals.

Here it is important to prioritize the allocation of water to various usages, appropriate legislation and their effective enforcement, effective prevention of pollution and treatment of human waste and industrial effluents before it is discharged in to river system and management of run-offs from agriculture.

The Phase-II of Ganga Action Plan [GAP] is underway now, and it is hoped that the academic institutions and practitioners involved in this process of cleaning and managing river Ganges work at micro level and consider those assessment priorities a systematic process of governance.

That’s the only hope, in keeping alive the ecosystem of almighty Ganges!

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Last updated: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 10:05