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Adi Ganga Revival Plan

Why in News?

Recently, plans to revive Adi Ganga (the original channel of River Ganga passing through the city of Kolkata) have been announced.

What are the Major Issues and Developments Associated with Adi Ganga?   

  • Encroachment History:
    • The river, which was once the main channel of the Ganga till the 17th century, has been neglected for decades and is now polluted and encroached upon. The choking of Adi Ganga severely impacted the natural drainage of the area.
    • However, Adi Ganga continued to thrive till the 1970s. Since then, its water quality gradually deteriorated until it turned into a sewer and got rapidly encroached.
    • In 1998, the Calcutta High Court directed the removal of all encroachments on the river within a month.
      • However, another report, close to two decades after the first order, showed that the encroachments were still existing.
  • Current Status:
    • The river is now practically dead and has turned into a sewer with a load of faecal bacteria crossing 17 million in 100 millilitres of river water, according to the state pollution control board data and dissolved oxygen is zero.
  • Rejuvenation:
    • The West Bengal government has been directed by the National Green Tribunal to complete its rejuvenation “positively by September 30, 2025”.
    • The river was selected for the pollution study during an international water conference organised by the non-profit Action Aid in Sylhet, Bangladesh.
    • Apart from Adi Ganga, Buriganga in Bangladesh, Puyang in China, Bagmati in Nepal and Klang in Malaysia were also chosen for pollution study during the conference.
  • The Adi Ganga, also known as the Gobindapur creek, Surman’s Canal and (presently) Tolly’s Canal, was the main flow of the Hooghly River between the 15th and 17th century that virtually dried up due to natural reasons.
  • Around 1750, a canal was dug to connect the main course of the river with the lower part of River Saraswati adjacent to Howrah.
    • The resultant Hooghly became the main river stretch and Adi Ganga turned into a secondary tributary.

What is the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)?

  • About:
    • On August 12, 2011, the NMCG was listed as a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
    • The NMCG is implemented by the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga also known as the National Ganga Council.
  • Objective:
    • The objective of the NMCG is to reduce pollution and ensure rejuvenation of the Ganga river.
    • This can be achieved by promoting intersectoral coordination for comprehensive planning & management and maintaining minimum ecological flow in the river, with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.
  • Organization Structure:
    • The Act envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga as below:
      • National Ganga Council under chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
      • Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Jal Shakti (Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation).
      • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).
      • State Ganga Committees
      • District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.

What are the Other Initiatives Related to Ganga?

  • Namami Gange Programme: It is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
    • Ganga was declared as the ‘National River’ of India in 2008.
  • Ganga Action Plan: It was the first River Action Plan that was taken up by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 1985, to improve the water quality by the interception, diversion, and treatment of domestic sewage.
    • The National River Conservation Plan is an extension to the Ganga Action Plan. It aims at cleaning the Ganga River under Ganga Action Plan phase-2.
  • Bhuvan-Ganga Web App: It ensures involvement of the public in monitoring of pollution entering into the river Ganga.