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Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria

Prime Minister Modi has promised to clean river Ganga of its impurities. Uma Bharti, Minister of Water Resources, has also confirmed she would work on this.  This affirmation is nothing new. Rajiv Gandhi expressed his resolve in this direction three decades ago. Sadly, despite spending thousands of crores of rupees, the impact has been poor.

Dr G Thyagarajan pointed to two major causes for pollution of the Ganga. The first is letting the effluents of tanneries in Kanpur into the river and the second of corpses freely into the river.  GT said that these two issues could be tackled. He pointed to the re-location of dozens of tanneries in Kolkata by installing treatment systems that ensured zero discharge of effluents. Jyoti Basu took care of political management and CLRI managed the technology part of it. The tanneries were shifted to a new location. Presto!  The decades’ old problem of tannery effluents was fully solved!

GT says that a similar approach could be made in tackling the problem at Kanpur. The technology and systems are readily available. Only it needs political will. The UP government should allot the needed space not far from the existing tanneries and back it up with the needed funding.

The other problem relating to corpses can be tackled by setting up a number of incinerators at the cremation ghats along the river and to the proper disposal of the ashes. Metros like Chennai have switched to electric incinerators. These have come to stay as effective means of burning corpses. With concerted action such a system can be extended to towns along the river Ganges.

If these two major causes for pollution of the river are tackled, other polluting issues can be addressed with ease, said GT.


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