Dr. Armin Rosencranz

Dr. Armin Rosencranz

Mentor | VIF
Aman Gupta

Aman Gupta

Director | VIF

Challenge of reviving India’s great rivers

India is experiencing an acute water crisis. Over the last two decades, this crisis has caused widespread agrarian distress, disrupted the rural economy, and rendered countless farmers distraught, leading a number into suicide.

The water crisis has its roots in extensive deforestation, proliferation of bore wells, rampant urbanisation, and unplanned development, which has wreaked havoc with the hydrological cycle, leading to the deterioration of many rivers.

As per the World Resources Institute, 54 per cent of India faces extremely high water stress. India’s groundwater depletion is one of the worst in the world. It is disheartening to see the deteriorating state of rivers in India, a civilization that reveres its water bodies and holds the virtue of sustenance in the highest regard.

Various water bodies across India, especially in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, have dried up owing to the disturbed hydrological cycle, the release of untreated effluents and unsustainable water use patterns.

The holy river Ganga, which many in India refer to as ‘Ganga Maa’ or ‘Mother Ganga’, has been among the top priorities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his election in 2014. The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation is responsible for overseeing the clean-up of the river.

Namami Gange was approved as a flagship programme by the union government in june 2014. With a budget outlay of Rs.20,000 crore, it was to accomplish effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of the river Ganga.

Despite the major steps and a strong government focus on cleaning up the Ganga, we are yet to see results. As per a recent report of the Central Pollution Control Board, Ganga receives 3,048 million litres of waste water per day. Disposal of industrial and domestic sewage effluent, directly by drains or indirectly through tributaries, has been the chief cause for the high levels of pollution.

The newly appointed Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, recently met the Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti, to discuss the required cooperation for Ganga rejuvenation.

Adityanath indicated that the state would take up necessary action to speed up the work, saying that since the largest stretch of the river passes through Uttar Pradesh, it is the responsibility of the state to clean up the river. A recent ruling by the Uttarakhand high court recognised rivers Ganga and Yamuna as living legal entities.

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