GWP India is supporting the Society for the Promotion of Waste Lands Development who, with key partners the Sach-Sach Society and Shramik Bharti, is undertaking a dialogue with community-based organisations across the Ganga River on the need to engage meaningfully with the National Ganga River Basin Authority and the Indian Institute of Technology consortium.
The Ganges was ranked among the top five most polluted rivers of the world in 2007 with pollution threatening not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.
The Ganges is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh with the basin being one of the most heavily populated in the world. It has over 400 million people and a population density of about 1,000 inhabitants per square mile (390 /km2) and millions of Indians depend on it for daily needs. The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a failure due to corruption and lack of technical expertise, lack of good environmental planning and lack of support from various authorities.
As part of GWP India’s support, a consultation was held in Kanpur City on 17th January 2012 for the facilitation of an independent civil society forum. The following issues were discussed:
- There is practically no Himalayan Ganges water river reaching Ganges in Kanpur – all the water is diverted into upper Ganga canal system and this is the biggest challenge for Kanpur.
- In the 1990s, the Ganga River was flowing 2-3 km away from Kanpur Ghats. A barrage project was planned to divert the Ganges so that it should flow along the ghats. This was completed in 1995. However, despite this project, the Ganga is still flowing at the same place. What flows along the ghats are the sewer water and effluents from the newly constructed housing settlements along the ghats.
- The diversion of sewerage for irrigation has led to destruction of agriculture land in more than 15 villages. People are suffering from serious diseases and ailments with no respite.
- There is an impression that all the underground water in Kanpur is polluted and that it does not have any potable quality.
Formal discussions and meetings among key stakeholders are proposed to take place between March and June 2012 to discuss the following:
- The need to develop an active stakeholders’ forum at the ward level to facilitate a dialogue with stakeholders on issues affecting them to activate water governance issues with local bodies.
- To understand issues related to the centralization of sewage treatment and how to actively facilitate a decentralized sewage treatment processes.
- To provide a science interface between the scientific body of knowledge on the one side and local communities on the other.