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`Ganga Action Plan bears no fruit'

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, AUG. 27. Despite heavy investments towards cleaning the Ganga, pollution levels are just as terrifying as before. This was highlighted during the Clean Ganga Day organised by the Sankat Mochan Foundation, The Asia Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development in the Capital today.

"The Ganga Action Plan was launched by the Government in Varanasi in 1986. More than 50 crores has been spent on the project but the pollution levels in the Ganga are as high as ever. Till as late as 1993, the Government said that the project had been successful. But then we started doing water testing and it was clear the sewage was till flowing into the river," said Veer Bhadra Mishra, president of the Sankat Mochan Foundation, Varanasi, at the second Clean Ganga Day.

This rise in pollution despite the construction of sewage treatment plants at Varanasi, was a result of erratic power supply, faulty engineering and maintenance problems, he added. Blaming the authorities for their lackadaisical approach, Dr. Mishra also outlined the alternative solution designed by the non-governmental organisation.

"We suggested an alternative solution that does not rely on power called the Advanced Integrated Water Pond System. But since 1997, the issue has been stuck and no one has been able to decide. There is fight between the Municipality and the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and now the matter has reached the Court," he said.

According to environmentalists, about 90 per cent of pollution into the holy river is caused by sewage generation while only about 5 to 6 per cent can be blamed on bathing and other activities. "While the real sources of pollution -- sewage -- continues to flow into the river, we are right now trying to spread awareness among citizens not to pollute the ghats. But 20 years after we started our campaign, I still feel that we have not been able to achieve anything. Our aim is still what it was -- to clean the Ganga," Dr. Mishra said.

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