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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Save The Ganga Failure to preserve the river will undermine India’s future industrial growth

In a severe indictment of efforts to clean up the Ganga, a study conducted by the National Cancer Registry Programme has found that those living along the banks of the river are more prone to cancer than others in the country. Thanks to years of relentless discharge of effluents, including toxic industrial wastes such as arsenic, fluoride and other heavy metals, cases of gall bladder cancer along the course of the river are the second highest in the world while incidence of prostate cancer is the highest in the country. The authorities take little cognizance of the Ganga being the most important river system in India, with almost half the population of the country dependent on its waters. 

    Despite spending an estimated Rs 2,000 crore under Ganga Action Plans I and II, the sewage treatment capacity and other pollution abatement infrastructure along the Ganga remain woefully inadequate. It must be understood that cleaning and preservation of the Ganga represents much more than saving a river. The government's poor track record in managing the impact of industrialisation on the environment and the health of people is precisely the reason industrial and energy projects are feared by many, witness the ongoing protests over the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam. The new Mission Clean Ganga approved by the National Ganga River Basin Authority mandates an investment of Rs 15,000 crore over the next 10 years to clean the river. Failure to fulfil this goal would not only create the world's worst health disaster zone but also spike India's industrial and economic growth.

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