My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
My thanks to Vijay Srinivas, a journalist in Delhi, for sending me this update:
‘Rs 33k cr needed to clean India’s rivers’
Times New Service, Mar 18, 2010
NEW DELHI: Diehard devotees may not believe this. But it’s true that the water of the holiest among holy rivers — the Ganga — fails to meet the drinking and bathing standards after it leaves Garhmukteshwar and is most polluted in Kanpur.
The national river meets all three standard parameters — Bio-Oxygen Demand (BOD), Dissolved Oxygen and total coliform — only at Rishikesh. For a river water to be fit for bathing and drinking, BOD should be less than 3mg/litre and less than 2mg/litre respectively, DO should be more than 5mg/litre and over 6mg/litre, and total coliform must be less than 500 mpn/100 ml for bathing and less than 50 mpn/100ml for drinking.
The water meets the BO and DO standards till it reaches Garhmukteshwar but even there the total coliform count recording is a high 7,500.
At Kanpur, it is virtually a drain with the total coliform count recording an unbelievable 2,40,000. But, the inherent recharging ability of the Ganga, despite all the pollution, saw it maintaining a high DO level of over 6 throughout.
A report of the Planning Commission submitted to the Supreme Court went deep into the reasons for the pollution in the Ganga and said the main culprit is the discharge of 8,250 million litres of untreated sewage daily into the river.
“Domestic sewage generation and existing sewage treatment plant (STP) capacity in the Ganga Basin is about 12,000 mld and 3,750 mld. In class I and II towns along the main stem of Ganga river, the corresponding figures are 2,900 mld and 1,017 mld respectively,” the report said.
It admits, “There is a wide gap between domestic sewage generation and STP capacity installed, to the extent that 65% sewage flows into the river and other water bodies untreated.”
It takes into account the similar state of affairs with other rivers and says a rough estimate indicates that the National River Conservation Plan projects all over India would cost upto Rs 33,000 crore to create additional STP capacity of about 38,000 mld by 2020.
“For the Ganga basin alone, the resources required to create 8,250 mld of additional capacity to meet the present shortfall can be to the tune of Rs 7,180 crore,” it said and the project requirement till 2020 could be to the tune of Rs 9,788 crore.
Regarding the funding, it said: “The resources required are large, but not daunting. This could be provided under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM).
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) I&II were initiated to control direct discharge of sewage and industrial effluent into the river from 29 major and 23 small cities, as well as 48 towns, from Uttarakhand to West Bengal. Though over Rs 1,000 crore was spent, its results were abysmal.
The CAG has in the past taken a dim view of the implementation of the clean Ganga initiative and said Rs 1,000 crore had gone down the drain without any tangible improvement in the water quality.