Saving Water Can Give You A Better And Brighter Tomorrow! Saving Water Can Save A Life!

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The amount of plastic waste annually spilled into the seas is higher every year, and several studies indicate that most of this waste comes from rivers. In the Mediterranean, 95% of the total waste at sea is made of plastic that has not been correctly disposed of by man, with devastating impacts on species and habitats. Also in the Mediterranean according to the WWF, there are 134 species that are victims of plastic ingestion, including all sea turtles species, which confuse plastic bags with prey. Before the ban on the use of plastic shopping bags was introduced in Italy in 2011, 20-25 billion bags were used each year (1/4 of those in Europe, equivalent to 260 thousand tons of plastic): many of these ended up in our sea and beaches. Many people are currently making several efforts to ?limit? the problem, but the collection of polluting materials still requires a huge amount of labor and money. The main problem operating in river environments is the need to find a common and adaptable solution to very different situations, both in terms of width and depth of the watercourse and in terms of navigability. Current solutions include boats with draft systems, net systems or barriers that temporarily close the river?s viability. Each installation requires specific means and specific studies, resulting in high costs; it is also extremely difficult to create permanent installations precisely because of the inconveniences they involve. The solution we studied is a solution with a very low environmental impact, modular and able to adapt to any watercourse. In the study of this project, physical simulation tests were performed using the software, and prototypes were built and tested to verify their functionality.

The RIVER CLEANING system, by means of the rotary movement of special floating devices anchored to the river bed and their particular transverse arrangement compared to the river, conveys all floating waste in transit to a single point, where a collection system can then be placed.

Rivers are crucial for human life. Their water is used in irrigation and for drinking, and they maintain the moisture of the earth. Rivers have been contributing a lot to transportation as well. Even till the mid-19th century, people would take a ship or boat if they were to go to Kolkata from Kanpur, Banaras or Patna. Perhaps this is one of the reasons big cities are situated on the banks of rivers.

Ironically, today the same cities have become a bane for the rivers. The population in these cities is increasing exponentially. As a corollary, the cities are generating large heaps of garbage and filth, which are dumped into the rivers through sewers. Rivers have a system to purge themselves. When the filth crosses a certain limit, the self-purification mechanism fails. Here begins the problem. Today, a number of big rivers meandering along cities have become a sort of sewage canal.

Recently, following a rigorous research Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has come out with a book titled Sewage Canal: How to Clean the Yamuna. The book discusses the government?s plan to clean 34 rivers, yet its focal point is the Yamuna. As much as 80 percent of the budget for the cleaning program is allocated for ten rivers, while only 12 percent is left for the rest 24.

The rivers getting most of the budget pie are the Ganga, the Yamuna, the Adyar, the Kum, the Moosi, the Gomti, the Cauveri, the Satlaj, the Godawari, the Wagad, and the Sabarmati. The authors of the reports complain they were not able to fathom as to why these rivers got preferential treatment from the government. Efforts to clean rivers are being undertaken under the National River Conservation Plan. Officials associated with this plan claim that they have completed the "cleaning" of 34 out of the 160 rivers in 20 states. However, if we go and see those rivers, they tell us a different tale. According to the report, terms like cleaning and pollution are yet to be defined with clarity. We use river water in bathing, washing clothes, and cooking. Some of us utilize it in industries. Then, the water reaches the river loaded with all the sludge. This is the way, we extract water out of rivers and in return fill them with waste.

According to this report, the data about cleaning are also dubious. This is why the authors say they cannot vouch for the government?s tall claims about cleaning rivers until they get the calculation about the water pumped out of them, and the waste sent to them.

n 2005, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said the previous year 2,947.80 MLD sewage was produced in the city, while according to the report of Central Pollution Control Board it was 3,684 MLD. The DJB estimated the quantity keeping in view the water supplied by it. But the fact is a large number of people depend on water extracted from hand pumps or tube wells, which was ignored by the DJB.

The estimation of those who work out cleaning plans is exclusively based on the water supplied by the government. They do not take note of the water available through private means. In the course of the research, the CSE found that only half or a quarter of the sewage is cleaned. At some places, the cleaning machines are left idle.

The report says as much as 40 percent of the cleaning budget is spent on Delhi, which has only five percent of the target population. However, the Yamuna flowing past Delhi is ailing. The book advocates giving a second thought to sewer management and water treatment.

A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report of 2015 brought out the fact that 61,948 million liters of urban sewage is generated on a daily basis in India. But the cities have an installed sewage treatment capacity of only 38 percent of this. In reality, more than this amount goes untreated into the rivers or water bodies as the treatment capacity of major sewage treatment plants (STPs) in the country is around 66 percent of the installed capacity as per CPCB findings of 2013. As a result, more than 38,000 million liters of wastewater goes into the major rivers, water bodies and even percolates into the ground every day. Over and above this there is industrial effluent. The data on the raw sewage from rural areas is not available.

In April 2015, CPCB issued directions to all the state pollution control boards/pollution control committees in the country for setting up of STPs in their respective states so that untreated sewage does not enter the rivers. The same directions were also issued by CPCB to all 69 municipal authorities of metropolitan towns and capital cities in October 2015.

Crores of rupees have been pumped in for cleaning rivers under the Centre?s National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission programmes of the Ministry of Urban Development and the ?Namami Gange? under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MOWR). Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) is taking care of the sanitation projects for villages near Ganga along with MOWR. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has so far released Rs 2,066.98 crores for implementation of various pollution abatement projects and STPs of capacity 2,446.24 million liters per day (MLD) under NRCP. Till March 2017, around Rs, 7,000 crores was spent only for cleaning the Ganga, as noted in an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The states are also getting financial assistance in the form of loans and grants that are sanctioned by foreign agencies. The concerned citizens and civil societies have moved the courts time and again to save rivers from pollution. In March 2017, Uttarakhand declared Ganga and Yamuna as living entities thinking that this will conserve and rejuvenate the rivers faster. But in July, the Supreme Court stayed the order taking note of its legal and administrative ramifications. The Central Water Commission (CWC) report gives the maximum and minimum Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) of river water between 2012-13 and 2016-17?hence a conclusion whether there is any change in pollution trend across 4-5 years due to implementation of different sewerage systems is difficult to draw. Data of a total of 222 CWC water quality sites were analyzed and it was found that water quality at 67 locations is beyond the permissible limit. Out of the 67 sites, 14 sites show BOD more than 30 mg/l, falling under severely polluted, 12 sites show BOD between 10-30 mg/l and 30 sites show BOD 3-10 mg/l which are also substantially polluted. Other 11 sites are also polluted showing BOD range above the permissible level.

Since cleaning Ganga and its tributaries has always been the priority for the Central government, hence the monitoring of the pollution of the rivers and availability of data in the public domain is accessible.

Namami Gange projects

When the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power at the Centre in 2014, cleaning of the Ganga was declared a priority. An umbrella program Namami Gange was created in 2015 and a budget of Rs 20,000 crore was allocated for 2015-2020 and the cleaning of the river and its tributaries started. Namami Gange was even given the status of an authority in 2016.

In August 2017, data from MOWR shows that around 163 projects were sanctioned under Namami Gange, to cover all the ongoing and new initiatives. Out of 163 projects, 41 projects have been completed so far. In these completed projects 223.13 MLD of sewage capacity has been created along with 1,339 km of the sewer network. The ministry?s website says that around 46 sewage treatment projects were launched under Namami Gange (May 14, 2015, to September 2017). These sanctioned projects will create sewage capacity of 760 MLD in river Ganga. The details of this document show that none of these projects were completed until October 2017.

This means that whatever projects were claimed to be completed by MOWR were sanctioned, pre-Namami Gange. However, in an announcement made by MOWR in October 2017, when Namami Gange completed one year as an authority, it was seen that 44 STPs were sanctioned under Namami Gange with a sewage capacity of 1,402.25 MLD. Nothing really moved on STPs under Namami Gange. The only projects perceived and started on the ground under Namami Gange were that of surface cleaning. Around 11 trash skimmers had been deployed at Haridwar, Garhmukteshwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna, Sahibganj, Nabadwip, Kolkata, Delhi, and Mathura Vrindavan. Around 1.3 million toilets were also constructed in rural areas near Ganga to reduce sewage inflow into Ganga and the latest figure from MDWS show that the coverage of household toilets in these villages was 99 percent. But no improvement was observed in the river water quality in the whole Ganga basin. This was because solid and liquid wastes are not managed in a planned and scientific way.

Quality of the river still poor

Between 2014-15 to 2017-18, around Rs, 1,942 crores has been spent against the allocated amount of Rs 3,633 crore. This means that only 10 percent of Rs 20,000 crores allocated by the Union government has been spent till June 2017 and by 2020 the rest needs to be spent. In March this year, the Central government justified that the causes of the delay in implementation of the projects were tendering process, retendering, non-availability of land, legal issues, natural calamities like flood and earthquakes and delay in permission from local authorities on road cutting/crossing. The data of CWC (collected between May 2016-June 2017) shows that the average BOD value (a parameter to measure the pollution level) of Ganga between Garhmukteshwar and Shahzadpur was not even suitable for outdoor bathing.

Between 2006 and 2016, if the quality of Ganga is analyzed for two major hotspots? Kanpur and Varanasi during the monsoon period when there is dissolution of contaminants?it is found that quality of river never dropped below 3 mg/l (CPCB standard for outdoor bathing) for Kanpur whereas there has been slight improvement in the quality of river at Varanasi. But at the same time, the entry of raw sewage in the river at Varanasi did not stop between 2006 and 2016; this is indicated by high fecal coliform levels in the river water (higher than 2,500 mpn/100 ml).

But the Central government denied any such increase in the pollution trend in the monsoon session of Lok Sabha in 2017 although they agreed that there has been a continuous entry of wastewater from the human settlements and industries. In 2017, when NGT gave an order in response to MC Mehta?s petition on Ganga pollution, the order document clearly showed that there has been a continuous increase in sewage and industrial effluent entering the river since 2008-09.

The Yamuna also did not show any improvement during the monsoon. The quality of the river is not even fit for outdoor bathing. The quality of the river is poorer in 2017 in comparison to 2014 and 2016. Since 1993, the cleaning of Yamuna is being done under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP). The Central government is supplementing the efforts of the states to reduce pollution in the Yamuna by providing financial assistance to Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh in a phased manner. The total expenditure incurred on conservation of river Yamuna under the YAP Phase I & II is Rs 1,515 crore. Under Phase III, the Japan International Cooperation Agency assisted project is under implementation at an estimated cost of Rs 1,656 crore for rehabilitation and up-gradation of existing STPs (950 MLD) and trunk sewers (43 km) in Delhi. In 2016, NGT had given directions to take up cleaning of the Yamuna under Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Plan, 2017. Accordingly, the Delhi Jal Board that looks after water and sanitation of the city, has submitted a priority list of projects amounting to Rs 1,969 crore to be taken up under Phase I of Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Plan, 2017.

The results of all these projects to clean Ganga and its tributaries were not satisfactory according to the experts and in September 2017, the Prime Minister handed over the gigantic task of cleaning Ganga to the Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari. Soon after Gadkari was entrusted with the Ministry, two STPs?one in Haridwar and another in Varanasi?were approved in a public-private partnership (PPP) mode at a combined cost of Rs 325 crore. These were the first two agreements with private sector companies to build STPs under an innovative PPP called hybrid-annuity payment model that the government formulated with the help of the International Finance Corporation. Few more constructions of STPs in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal were announced under a hybrid annuity.

Few Institutes/Foundation which helps in cleaning the rivers:

Plastic Soup Foundation

Jeevitnadi Foundation

Clean Ganga Fund


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