Ganga, the largest river in India, also “worshipped” as “holy mother” or “Goddess”, is severely polluted with human waste and industrial contaminates. This river provides water to about 40% of India’s population across 11 states, serving an estimated population of more than 500 million people, unlike any other river in the world. It is considered to be the fifth most polluted river in the planet.
One of the key campaign promises, made by the incumbent Prime Minister, prior to the 2014 general election was to clean-up the Ganga river. All citizens had expected that at last cleanliness of the Ganga will be ensured by prohibiting further destruction of river ecosystem by controlling wastewater discharge in it. Unfortunately that did not happen.
For supplementing this view, a newspaper report can be recalled,” ‘The performance audit revealed deficiencies in financial management, planning, implementation and monitoring, which led to delays in the achievement of milestones’; the auditor said in its 160-page report presented to Parliament”.
These deficiencies may be attributed to apathy of top management to take constructive administrative decision; mindset of scientists; political will and poor governance in environment sector. To supplement these views, water quality monitoring which is one of the most important components of prudent water quality management, are not being done especially in the context of designs, reliability, errors and pertinence. In my view, based on critical analysis, the existing design of water quality monitoring network is not consistent and logical to produce reliable data despite huge financial investment towards procurement of costly imported instruments (including automatic water quality monitoring instruments) because continuous monitoring and analysis of samples are being undertaken without considering the crucial role of environmental science to promote cleanliness of rivers. In response to a question invoking RTI Act, CPCB could not reply in clear terms; what additional information on water quality has been obtained following procurement of these instruments? Many instruments are procured and delivered to the State Pollution Control Boards without taking into account it’s infrastructure and availability of trained analysts. Optimum use of these instruments and their functionality in producing reliable information are always doubtful.
Of course, huge public money being spent in the name of cleaning up the Ganga gets projected as a “proof” to establish the concern of the Government, State apparatus, regulators and politicians. But in reality, environmental science hardly promotes cleanliness of Ganga. Rather it promotes the prosperity of manufacturing companies, without bothering the suffering of mankind and humanity and damage to the ecosystem with valuable plants and animals facing threat of extinction. The inverse relationship between quantum of money spent and status of water quality “information” (i.e. additional information) clearly reveals that science is being operated without an iota of conscience. This is the clearly evident that the top level managerial personnel, engineers and scientists are carrying out their job without accountability and responsibility. But in seminars, conference and meetings (again, held at another round of huge expenses), top level officers strongly advocate their progress. But what “progress” and for whom?
Practically, this “progress” is meant for the corporate who are interested only in selling their products and service, thereby depriving the people in expectation of clean water. If this practice is continued, people will have ZERO respect to environmental science. This sorry state of affairs has been attained mainly due to the officers in the environmental sector possessing inadequate knowledge, but tremendous zeal for money and power. They are responsible for today’s mess as supplemented by the view of the auditor.
I hold them accountable for the lives killed and maimed, for the resources destroyed, for the innocence slaughtered, for the values trampled and for the frightening future that stares at our face.
Dr Debapriya Mukherjee