This article published in the Observer Research Foundation's Energy News Monitor reflects on the recently signed agreement by the Indian government with the World Bank to use a one billion dollar loan to finance the first major new effort in 20 years to clean the river Ganga.
The article argues that although this decision is highly welcome and a positive step that acknowledges the plight and the need to cleanse the river, it is necessary to take a holistic approach while understanding the reasons behind the pollution and then undertaking steps or measures to deal with it.
The article highlights the two qualities of the river Ganga that have made it a revered river by Indians for thousand of years that include, the purity and the copious and unhindered flow of the water.
While these qualities have been compromised in recent years, the article argues that, in addition to paying attention to controlling the amount of waste flowing into the river, it is also important to pay attention to the amount of water flowing from the Himalayan Mountain ranges, which would reduce drastically because of a large number of hydroelectric dams planned to be built on the river and its tributaries in the coming years.
The author argues that this decrease in flow would further exacerbate the existing situation of the river and the construction activities associated with the building of dams would further cause additional damage to the vegetation, the surrounding environment and defeat the very purpose of the World Bank project to save the Ganga unless, the the World Bank itself critically evaluates whether the funds it proposes are used to create infrastructure that can lead to sustainable benefits in the long run.
The article urges the Indian government to also make responsible decisions by preventing investing of funds into hydel projects that would lead to irreparable damage to the Ganga, in order to meet the aim of revenue generation through these projects and urges the government to explore other environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions to take care of the development of the state.
The article points at the need to conduct an objective analysis of costs and benefits of the dams during the decision making process and ends by arguing that the hydel projects should be sanctioned only after evaluating the benefits and taking into consideration the safety and protection of the environment and the rivers in the area.
The article can be accessed at this link