Does Rajeev Gandhi’s “The Ganga Action Plan 1986” Failed?

In India, rivers are the lifeline and the primary source of drinking, agricultural and industrial water. It flows through villages, towns, and cities and nourishes the land. Rivers also carry the dirt of towns and cities. Uneven urbanization, industrialization, and ignorance are contaminating our rivers. Thus the lifeline gets transformed into a deadline. A similar situation has emerged today in India as most of the rivers in India are much polluted including India’s largest and most important river, i.e., Ganga. Originating from the Gangotri glacier as Bhagirathi, acquire its original name ‘Ganga’ at Devprayad with the confluence of river Bhagirathi and river Alaknanda. In Indian mythology, the heavenly river Ganga is descended on the earth with the great effort of King Bhagirath, son of King Dilip to redeem their sixty thousand descendants from the curse of Sage Kapila. Lord Shiva holds the mighty flow of the river Ganga on earth. Increasing population in the basin and slapdash urbanization and industrial growth has significantly impacted the water quality of River Ganga, particularly during the dry season. Domestic and Industrial waste indisposed in rivers. Dumping of animal carcasses, cremation of dead bodies at the river bank and ghats, immersing of piles of ashes and bones, religious practices of throwing unburned bodies of sages, saints, and infants directly into river Ganga has made the water unhealthy that has been proved in many types of research and studies. Many other rituals of submerging often insoluble metals or stones representations of deities in the river increase water pollution. However, the main source of pollution is sewage and the dumping of industrial waste.

Ganga has been declared the fifth most polluted river in the world in spite of the fact that river Ganga is the most respected river in India worshipped as a goddess and revered as a mother all over India. Indian scriptures based on Hinduism are filled in the praise of the river Ganga and its water. Ganga water is the holiest on the earth and is the symbol of purity and sanctity. The first serious step towards cleaning river Ganga was “The Ganga Action Plan or GAP” launched in January 1986 by the then Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi, to reduce the pollution load on the river. Ganga Action plan was the outcome of a survey reported submitted by CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) in 1984. Dr. Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India declared the river Ganga as the National River of India on November 4, 2008. Now current central Government has launched an integrated Ganga development project titled ‘Namami Ganga’ (meaning ‘Obeisance to the Ganga river) and allocated Rs. 2,037 crore for this purpose.

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