River Pollution in India – UPSC GS3

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2018 identified 351 polluted river stretches in India.
  • Maharashtra has the highest number of polluted river stretches.
Reasons behind polluted river stretches:
  • Discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage from cities / towns and industrial effluents in their respective catchments.
  • Problems in operation and maintenance of sewage / effluent treatment plants.
  • Lack of dilution
  • Dumping of solid waste on river banks
  • Other non-point sources of pollution: Discharge of pollutants from diffuse sources or from a larger area such as runoff from agricultural fields (agricultural runoff), grazing lands, construction sites, abandoned mines and pits, roads and streets.
  • Gap between sewage generation and treatment: This gap between sewage generation and treatment remains a major point source for the increase in pollution of rivers.
    • According to the report published by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) sewage generation from urban areas in the country is estimated at 72,368 million litres per day (MLD), against the sewage treatment capacity of 31,841 MLD.
  • Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have compounded the problem of polluted river stretches.
Steps taken by the govt
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWMP): CPCB, in association with State pollution Control Boards / committees in different states / Union territories, have been monitoring the water quality of rivers and other water bodies across the country through a network of monitoring stations under the National Water Quality Monitoring Programme.
  • Cleaning / rejuvenation of rivers is an ongoing process: It is the responsibility of the states / UTs and local bodies to ensure the treatment of sewage and industrial effluents to the prescribed norms before discharging into water bodies, coastal waters, or land.
  • Namami Gange & NRCP: The Union ministry supplements efforts of states / UTs. It provides financial and technical assistance for abatement of pollution in identified stretches of rivers in the country through the Central Sector Scheme of Namami Gange for rivers in the Ganga basin, as well as through the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) for other rivers.
  • NRCP: The river cleaning programme in the country initiated with the launching of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in 1985. The Ganga Action Plan was expanded to cover other rivers under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) in the year 1995.
    • The objective of NRCP is to improve the water quality of the rivers, which are the major water sources in the country, through the implementation of pollution abatement works.
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